Reflections from Katie: October 22, 2018

Many people connect October with Halloween. And many people connect Halloween with kids. And kids with school. So October becomes Halloween month at school. At Cambridgeport, we have had a history of not celebrating Halloween at school, and you might be wondering why that is. While I may have been able to explain it to you in theoretical terms before, last year a student wrote an essay about what it feels like to be surrounded by conversations about Halloween, and this essay convinced me more than ever that keeping Halloween out of school is the right thing to do. Babikir Saeed allowed me to share his essay with you as a way of building an understanding for one of the reasons we don’t celebrate Halloween. Here are Babikir’s words:

I’m at my table in school silently doing my work, noises shooting into my ear from all different directions. Suddenly something caught my attention. Someone asked me ”What are you going to be for Halloween?”

I froze. Those words cut through me deeper than a knife. I clenched my fist angering by the question. I turn back to my work letting the anger go and not willing to answer the question.

Kids ask me the same question for the whole week, and I  always have the same answer. I don’t celebrate Halloween. You’re probably asking  why I can’t celebrate Halloween. Well my parents think it’s the devil’s birthday, we hate him and our messenger Muhammad(S) tells us we shouldn’t celebrate it.

A little later, I’m coming back from school. I walk through my house door bummed, annoyed and wishing I could celebrate what other people can. I sit on my couch helplessly and greet my mom. Since my mom is  curious and not willing to look back at her phone she asks me “What’s wrong?” I reply back “Kids at school are always asking what are you going to be for Halloween and how it annoys me so much and I don’t want to go to school till November!” She tells me to ignore and be grateful for the things you can celebrate. When she said that my anger rose a level. They won’t even buy us candy from a single store.

The next day at the swimming pool while I was walking into the door someone screamed ”What are you gonna be for Halloween!”

I take the advice and just walk right past her.

It was Halloween on that day I think, and I’m so happy that all of those questions  could stop at last. But there's still a whole month of Christmas bragging left. I don’t have to get too down about it though because I still have other holidays for my religion, and I’m pretty proud of them. It’s our religion (Islam) that thinks Halloween is not permitted. So I choose to stop being jealous and start to follow what our messenger says.

We are committed to creating an inclusive environment at Cambridgeport, where every child can feel good about coming to school each day. October is no exception. While, of course, there are no rules about talking about Halloween, the very least we can do is keep the conversations about Halloween out of the official teaching and learning activities of the school day and month. Thank-you Babikir for putting such eloquent words to your feelings so that we might all understand.

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