Ripton school evaluating holiday observances

RIPTON — Ripton Elementary School officials are seeking community input on how students can mark the holiday season as part of their learning experience.
The outreach comes in the wake of decision by school officials to take a pass on typical Halloween activities this year in favor of a more general celebration of the fall and Thanksgiving. The school community has, in its recent history, marked Halloween with the reading of scary stories and the donning of costumes, among other things. Some activities had been co-organized by the Ripton Elementary parent-teacher organization.
School Principal Marta Beede explained that she, in consultation with staff, elected to switch things up this year, in part out of deference to some students who have been scared by Halloween activities, and those who may not have costumes. She also noted that since Halloween this year did not fall on a school day, it seemed all the more appropriate to provide an “alternative fall-related activity.”
The Halloween decision generated some controversy among some Ripton parents, around a dozen of whom showed up at a Nov. 1 school board meeting to air their concerns.
Among them was Bryan Alexander, a parent and volunteer in past Halloween activities at the school. Alexander said he was concerned that this year’s decision came without much notice and in spite of an (ultimately abandoned) student petition effort.
Alexander called the annual celebration a “touchstone” issue for a small community like Ripton, and said he was concerned the school might be headed in “a bureaucratic and authoritarian direction.”
School officials said they were sorry the Halloween decision raised some concerns among some students and parents. But they said they hope those same stakeholders will participate in broader conversation in how Ripton Elementary should mark the holidays — including future Halloweens.
“This will lead to a wider community dialogue,” Sease said. “Through Democratic principles, we will resolve this.”
John Flowers is at [email protected].

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