Students of Lincoln Elementary in Chicago won't be celebrating Halloween at school this year. Students reportedly cried when the announcement was made and parents feel frustrated over the decision. However, Lincoln isn't the only school in the district to make the decision and families are not happy about the Halloween ban. Parents seem to be the most upset over the fact that they were left out of the decision-making and there was a lack of clarity as to why the decision was made. Additionally, parents want to know how the school is planning to move forward.
Michelle Cooney, Lincoln's school principal, was the one to make the decision for her school. When it comes down to it, it seems to have been done out of respect to the families who don't celebrate Halloween. Cooney had this to say about her decision to ban Halloween this year at Lincoln Elementary.
"As part of our school and district-wide commitment to equity, we are focused on building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all. 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. There are also inequities in how we have traditionally observed the holiday as part of our school day. Our goal at Lincoln is to provide space and opportunities for all students to be part of the community - not to create an environment that may feel exclusive or unwelcoming to any child."
Nejra Bajric's son is a second grader at Lincoln and he was distraught over the Halloween ban. He wanted to dress up as Miles Morales from Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse to show off for his friends. Bajric and her husband were looking forward to their son having a special Halloween at school, in addition to going trick-or-treating later in the evening. She had this to say.
"Halloween is a cultural American holiday, and it's being canceled because of religious groups. We're a Bosnia and Muslim immigrant and refugee family. Halloween, when we moved (to Chicago) from a different country, was one of the greatest things."
When Nejra Bajric was in school, she didn't get to celebrate other holidays and remembers Halloween being "the best day ever." She loved that she felt like she was finally able to fit in with the other children. Not all families are able to take their kids trick-or-treating for a variety of different reasons, which makes school the only place for kids to celebrate at times. Mark Gruber has three children at Lincoln and says he thinks the school does an excellent job, but he wishes the communication could be better. He explains.
"If you want to be inclusive, have a conversation and get input from all members of the community. It's very hard in public school, but it was just decided and that's why people are so upset - it was just decided. Bring out ideas and discussion about how can we move forward that tries to meet as many needs as possible, not change (our behaviors and traditions) for the views of a few people. That's not the way society works."
A lot of schools in North America have started to change the way Halloween is celebrated. For one, the majority of schools do not allow masks or candy anymore. With that being said, at least it's still celebrated and encouraged, especially for younger children in low income areas. Hopefully other schools around the country decide not to follow the example of the Chicago schools. The Chicago Tribune was the first to report about the Halloween cancellation this year.