June 23, 2017

Valentine’s Day at School is Here to Stay

By Julie Samrick

“Whoa! That’s a lot of Valentines… Are you a teacher?”  A man asked as he stared at my cart incredulously while my kids and I checked out of the Dollar Store last weekend.  Toting 100 paper Valentines plus a piece of candy to attach to each one, I was genuinely happy to answer, “No I’m not, but my kids are taking Valentines to their classes at school.”

 

Later that same evening my husband grumbled about all the candy I’d bought, how it’s just “one more thing” we needed to do for school.  I had to disagree.  You see- I was actually giddy to buy all that candy.  Of all the things kids don’t get to experience at school anymore, I am happy to say Valentine’s Day at school is (hopefully) a tradition that’s here to stay.

 

A lot of traditions and holidays have been done away with in many of our nation’s elementary schools. The Pledge of Allegiance might be said once a week, if at all, in 2013. And classic playground games like Dodge Ball are now a no-no while Red Rover got the ax long ago. The word “Christmas” has been eradicated, substituted for “holiday” and there are no longer classroom “Easter” parties or “Easter” egg hunts, but “spring” hunts and parties are plentiful.  Anything Halloween has been replaced by “harvest”- harvest parties, harvest festivals, and harvest attire too.  A straw hat and overalls are fine on scarecrow day, but children must not wear Halloween costumes on October 31st for fear they’ll simply be too distracting.  Last year, I mistakenly told my son he’d better wear green on St. Patrick’s Day or be prepared to be pinched, only to be told his teacher had already warned his class that pinching wouldn’t be permitted.

 

I’ve slowly begun to accept the fact that childhood staples like bringing birthday cupcakes to class are passé.  And where at least small gifts like pencils from the birthday child for the other 30 students were a welcome sub-par substitute for a little while, now those are gone as well.

 

Instead other annual events have been embraced and elevated in most public as well as private elementary schools.  The anti-drug “Red Ribbon Week” is a weeklong affair, as is “Teacher Appreciation Week.” Chinese New Year gets the royal treatment and the 100th day of school oddly gets all the bells and whistles, too.

 

Holidays and celebrations at school have changed, but Valentine’s Day has remained as stable as ever.  Not only may my kids bring paper Valentines to their school classmates, they get to bring candy too?!  But really, who could deny a day that says, “I care about you” all day long?  There’s just nothing un-PC about it, except for maybe the astronomical prices of flowers or the impossibility of getting dinner reservations…but let’s get back to the kids. 

 

Valentine’s Day certainly started with controversy.  St. Valentine was a martyred priest in Rome- he was beheaded in 500 A.D. for secretly officiating the weddings of Christian soldiers, who were forbidden from getting married at the time because they were being persecuted under the Roman Empire. Legend states that before his execution, Valentine wrote “From your Valentine” as a farewell to the jailer’s daughter, whom he’d befriended.

 

In present day February 14th is simply a worldwide day of red, pink, roses, and candy, timeless symbols of of peace, love, and happiness.  Even if someone doesn’t have a romantic love, he or she can smother their family and friends with adoration and appreciation and I’m glad we still celebrate it. Happy Valentine’s Day!

 

A credentialed teacher, Julie Samrick is now a stay-at-home mother of four kids and the founder of Kid Focused.

 

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Comments

  1. Marcus Andersson says:

    I went to a public high school in Virginia in the late 1990s, early 2000s, where I had the opposite experience. My freshman year I was in the choir, and almost all of the songs we sang were Christian. It was a traveling choir that competed, and as such, we were required to perform anywhere our choir teacher had scheduled us, which included her church. Each year there was a Christmas tree in the high-school forum. And teachers felt very free to discuss their political/moral beliefs, which was extremely difficult for me as a closeted gay student in a small Southern town. I was not harassed by students too much for my perceived sexuality, but it was very difficult to hear the horrible things teachers felt about gay people based on their religions. After school, there were at least two Christian groups that met and were sponsored and led by teachers I had. The largest was the FCA. They also prayed outside the school each morning around the flagpole and sponsored a mandatory assembly for True Love Waits, which as someone who was heart broken that he would never be able to have a relationship in life was a bit much to take.

    We did have the pledge of allegiance every day. It became mandatory in all Virginia schools by my later years in high school, as did the moment of silence, in which students were required to reflect. It was not called prayer because the Virginia legislature apparently didn’t want to go that far, but that was the expectation and most students did in fact make gestures that indicated they were praying.

    At sporting and academic competitions, teachers or coaches would lead students in prayer before a match.

    Religion was everywhere in my public school, and I honestly would not have minded it if so many teachers had not used classrooms as soapboxes for their views on sexuality.

    My point is that a lot of times people make these blanket statements that God has been taken out of the schools or that students can’t pray. None of that is true. What my school did certainly crossed the line, but individual students are free to do what they want. There is no law that says otherwise.

    But I don’t understand the need for school to be everything to everyone. It’s a public agency, as is a public library, or the DMV. Its purpose is education. But we face a problem where education is being dictated by politicians who don’t want subjects taught in an objective of manner as possible. Maybe there is a overreaction and overcorrection to that in some progressive states, but I’ve not experienced it. I am willing to admit that at the college level, courses can sometimes be influenced by an overcorrection to inequalities. And maybe that is true in some secondary schools, but not all of them.

    I suffered from what I later called second-hand religion. It was inescapable in my school, and I got all the condemnation, none of the salvation, so I take a bit of umbrage to the idea that schools are so politically correct they don’t have the pledge of allegiance. Look at Virginia’s legal code: it’s mandated.

  2. I am sorry this happened to you. Teachers preaching their religious beliefs in public school is on the other extreme of this issue and shouldn’t be acceptable either. However, we have edged so far over to being PC we now can’t even say Christmas? That was the point of this post, though I can certainly appreciate where you’re coming from.

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