Quakertown’s Lack of Acknowledgement for Religion

Quakertowns Lack of Acknowledgement for Religion

Lily Davis, Staff Writer

Quakertown School District does not give many days off of school, but when they do it is often to celebrate Christian and Catholic holidays. The school board often fails to acknowledge other holidays not only by failing to cancel school but by not addressing them in class or on the school calendar.

 For Quakertown’s 2021 winter break, the school was closed from December 24th to the 31st. Christmas day takes place on the 25th of December so everyone can celebrate the holiday, but what about the students that don’t celebrate this particular holiday? The title “winter break” is disguised to hide the fact that it’s a break clearly designated for Christmas. Classes supply crafts and activities that revolve around this holiday with no consideration given to those students who may not celebrate it. Teachers create countdowns and coloring pages of Christmas trees only to leave the other students feeling uncomfortable and forced to participate in holidays that they don’t celebrate. In 2016, Hanukkah fell on the same day as Christmas Eve, yet Christmas was still prioritized. Yes, more Quakertown students celebrate it, but in a climate that is increasingly geared toward inclusivity, every holiday should be addressed. How can all students feel included in the Quakertown community when they are not equally represented? It is the school’s responsibility to make students aware of all religious holidays, and at the very least, acknowledge (if not celebrate) the holidays that are important to the minority Quakertown student population. Students feel uncomfortable and out of place when school, a place of community education, intentionally excludes many of the holidays celebrated by its community. 

The Quakertown Community, although diverse, primarily consists of Christian/Catholic students. Although this makes up about 50% of the student population, there is still a large handful of students that celebrate something else. Some of the most commonly excluded religions in Quakertown include Judaism, Islam, Hinduism, and many more. It’s understandable that the school district appeals to the majority and cancels school for the most widely-celebrated holidays, but it’s not okay to ignore the students with different beliefs. School obviously can’t open for every single religious day, but it’s reasonable to want schools to address the various important holidays that a diverse student population might celebrate.  Although Quakertown schools do excuse absences for religious reasons, students still miss class and risk the chance of falling behind. Also, many students who participate in sports cannot attend activities due to the Quakertown policy that does not permit students to attend sporting events if they missed the previous day of school. A Jewish Quakertown student was asked their opinion on the way the school handles religious holidays and she stated, “I hate feeling isolated and left out. I wish our holidays were at least reflected on the calendar.” 

Schools seem to have no trouble granting holiday breaks on such holidays as Thanksgiving, Presidents Day, and Easter out of respect, so where’s the respect for Jewish, Muslim, and Indian holidays? One of the most popular holidays in India, Diwali, a five-day festival of lights, is not even mentioned on the Quakertowns school calendar. On September 16th, 2021, Quakertown had a non-instructional day but failed to mention it was for Yom Kippur, one of the holiest Jewish holidays. 

Some states have already made progress by giving schools off for holidays other than Christian holidays. For example, according to Metea Media, “New York schools close for major Jewish holidays, and as of 2015, two days are given for Muslims to observe Eid.” As time progresses one can only hope the school system will see its flaws and make changes to the school calendar. By acknowledging every important holiday, all students at Quakertown will feel included and comfortable within themselves and their religion. Found under the Diversity section of Quakertowns homepage, they state that“ The Quakertown Community School District is committed to showing respect and tolerance of all individuals who learn and work in our school community.” It is important that the school district follows through with this statement and gives students and teachers off for the days that are special to their religion in order to bring the community closer.