Changes to Valentine’s Day celebration at Bethel School District spark unlovely reaction

The Register-Guard | 2/14/2018 | Staff
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Parents in the Bethel School District are outraged.

Their reason? No more school parties for Valentine’s Day.

Bethel - School - Board - Board - Meeting

The Bethel School Board will be holding a special board meeting Thursday evening after it was forced to call off a meeting Monday where more than 100 angry parents stormed the district office and refused to wait their turn to speak.

The group overflowed the small board room at the district office just after 7 p.m., reportedly yelling repeatedly at board members before board Chairwoman Dawnja Johnson adjourned the meeting about 30 minutes after it started.

Meeting - Attendee - Board - Members - Backs

At least one meeting attendee said board members turned their backs to members of the crowd while they were speaking out, and parents alleged that board members were rude to some people who came to the meeting.

District spokesman Pat McGillivray later said the board members who did turn their backs, did so after the meeting was canceled.

Past - Students - Valentine - Day - Exchange

In the past, students celebrated Valentine’s Day with the traditional exchange of cards and candy. But the district slowly has been phasing out those traditions for the past few years.

The new holiday guidelines have not been fully implemented at each school yet, but no schools in the Bethel district will have traditional Valentine’s Day parties — with candy and card exchanges — this year.

Parents - District - School - Holidays

That prompted some parents to accuse the district of selectively “taking away” other traditional school holidays as well.

For instance, Bethel district students no longer wear costumes for Halloween, and Thanksgiving celebrations have been renamed “harvest parties.”

School - Holidays - Parents

Such “reinventing” of traditional school holidays doesn’t sit well with some parents.

“It’s not just about Valentine’s Day,” said Ryan Hosek, a parent of two Prairie Mountain students. “They’re isolating the majority of kids’ feelings for the sake of a few, and that’s just not how the world works.

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