North Cook News

North Cook News

Monday, December 9, 2019

Evanston elementary school spooked out of celebrating Halloween this year


By Chris Adams | Oct 8, 2019

Halloween trick or treat pumpkin bucket2
Some Illinois schools are distancing themselves from Halloween celebrations. | Author: Ryan Bruce/Source: Burst

An Evanston school has decided to cancel Halloween celebrations beginning this year.

Lincoln Elementary has banished the American version of a tradition imported from Scotland and Ireland that is primarily celebrated by kids. Lincoln Principal Michelle Cooney feels that allowing students to participate in Halloween activities fosters an environment of exclusion for those who do not recognize the holiday.

Some in the community do not agree.

“Halloween parties may not be essential to a school's ‘core curriculum,’” Betsy Hart of Wilmette and founder of New Trier Neighbors told North Cook News via email. “But disbanding this age-old tradition, the stuff of innocent childhood memories and joy, because someone somewhere finds it ‘offensive,’ smacks of Orwellianism. It is a symptom of a much larger problem and, well, it's scary.”

The school believes otherwise, believing its value of equity would be compromised.

“As part of our school and district-wide commitment to equity, we are focused on building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all,” Cooney wrote in an email to the Chicago Tribune. “While we recognize that Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, it is not a holiday that is celebrated by all members of our school community and for various reasons.”

Lincoln isn’t the only school in the district to ban Halloween parties. Melissa Messinger, director of communications for the Evanston/Skokie School District 65, told the Tribune that a number of their schools have retreated from traditional Halloween events.

The 2014 Oregon State Teacher of the Year, Brett Bigham, wrote in an blog last October that he has successfully implemented Halloween parties in his classroom by creating value. Every kid participates and the party becomes a lesson plan. His students make costumes at school and develop their own space and entertainment.

“And so to Halloween or not to Halloween is not necessarily the question you should be asking,” Bigham wrote. “But perhaps how to Halloween with equality is what we should be talking about.”

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