Monday, October 31, 2011

School bans Halloween costumes

It’ll be all trick and no treat this Halloween at one Hamilton elementary school, where spooky has been replaced by kooky.

And the scary decision to scrap the annual tradition of dressing up as a superhero or monster has left students and parents of St. Therese of Liseux in a ghoulish mood.

“All of the kids are upset,” Lynda Fraser, whose twins — Skyler and Kendall — attend the school, said Sunday.

She said the issue surfaced about a month ago when the school sent home a letter explaining “Halloween, as we traditionally know it, would be cancelled this year at our elementary school.”

Students were “devastated” and one boy in her son Skyler’s Grade 6 class started a petition hoping school principal Linda Chittick would reverse her decision.

Many students and some parents signed it, Fraser said.

“But (Chittwick) isn’t listening to the kids and that’s really sad,” she added.

Just over a week ago, a second letter was sent home confirming the principal was sticking to her guns regarding her costume ban.

“A gentle reminder that for this school year at St. Therese of Lisieux, students and staff may wear black and orange all day rather than costumes,” Chittick stated. “Should you choose not to have your child wear black and orange, the school uniform is expected.”

Fraser’s kids said wearing black and orange on Halloween is “boring” and they doubt many classmates will do so.

“I’m disappointed, I was really looking forward to dressing up,” Kendall, 11, said.

She is dressing as a devil this Halloween. Skyler plans to go trick-or-treating as a hockey player.

But the siblings will have to wait until classes end to don their costumes.

In the principal’s letter, Chittick reasoned that celebrating Halloween takes away from “instructional time in the classroom” and creates “safety and security” concerns as parents will be in the school helping kids get dressed up and taking photographs without permission.

“The decision was made by all staff and supported by the Catholic school council executive,” Chittick stated.

She also encouraged students not to bring in candy treats to share with classmates. Instead they should bring “non-edible” items such as stickers and erasers.

“This is only the second year this principal has been at the school and she has already cancelled three things,” Fraser said, adding Chittick also shelved a talent show and an airband contest.

“The kids are frustrated and they’re wondering what they’ll lose next,” she said.

Fraser believes celebrating Halloween and other holidays breaks up the monotony of the school year and gives children something to look forward to.

“When school stops being fun and all about academics, then kids stop enjoying (it),” she said.

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