No More “Dominant Holiday” Celebrations at St. Paul Elementary School

vento_signRemember when you were in elementary school and you brought heart-shaped cards with candy Scotch-taped to them to distribute to your classmates on Valentine’s Day?  Well, those days are gone at a St. Paul elementary school who said that they want to be more inclusive of their ethnically diverse student population.

Bruce Vento Elementary School in St. Paul will no longer be celebrating St. Valentine’s Day and other “dominant holidays” including Thanksgiving and Christmas.

According to an article by national columnist Todd Starnes, Bruce Vento Elementary School’s Principal Scott Masini wrote in a letter to parents “my personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population.”

The Minneapolis Star Tribune reported that the letter from Principal Masini was published on a private Facebook page entitled “Supporting St. Paul Students and Teachers.”

In Starnes’ article, Principal Masini was quoted as saying, “I have come to the difficult decision to discontinue the celebration of the dominant holidays until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else’s view.”

St. Paul Public Schools released a statement to the Star Tribune which said that “because St. Paul Public Schools is a diverse district that is filled with families from around the world, we strive to respect all cultures and all students. We recognize that not every student celebrates or participates in some or all holidays.  We have a board policy that discourages programs and festivities that celebrate observances unless they are required by law.”

According to Starnes, a district spokeswoman said that the school district includes many cultures of students from around the world, including a very large Somali population.  The Star Tribune reported that Principal Masini consulted with his staff before his decision to terminate the holiday celebrations at the school.

Masini wrote, “One of the concerns I have is whether or not this practice is encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening the culture of tolerance and respect for all.”