Because having Halloween just once a year doesn’t make any sense, someone, somewhere, decided to strip out the fun parts and leave us Valentine’s Day. But students get a kick out of it, even if Valentine’s Day can leave schools with a migraine, for one reason or another.
Some administrators want to mitigate the instructional damage levied by what they see as a distraction, or at least infuse some important lessons.
According to the Orlando Sentinel, for instance, two Florida schools banned any balloons or gifts from being distributed today, and said they’ll either reject any deliveries or hold them in the school office. In a message to parents, Cypress Creek High School principal Susan Storch said students would not be allowed to bring in “balloons, flowers, stuffed animals, or other Valentine’s Day items.”
That delivery policy goes for schools in Harlan, Ky., too. Some schools will allow students to come look at gifts in the front office, but not take them out until after the day is over.
Kelly Schofield, principal of Dana Elementary School, in Hendersonville, N.C., noted to us via Twitter that there’s plenty of time in the day for festivities:
@rulz4engagement We put 1st things 1st. Work first and then play. Students will celebrate friendship this afternoon.
— Kelly Schofield (@schofield2007) February 14, 2013
As the Chicago Tribune notes, Valentine’s Day is likely a casualty, in part, of the No Child Left Behind Act, as meeting strict academic standards and coping with testing pressures consumes precious instructional time.
Other administrators don’t want to do away with Valentine’s, but do want to alter the celebration in a way that addresses social inequities and character education.
In Malden, Mass., Salemwood Elementary Principal Carol Keenan set a ban on candy and cards out of what she sees as an equality issue—not all parents can afford Valentine’s Day. At Hatch Elementary School, in Oak Park, Ill., treats are banned, but the principal will keep several boxes of unopened cards in her office for children who don’t have any to distribute.
At Trautwein Elementary School, in Mehlville, Mo., Valentine’s parties carry all the regular staples, but focus additionally on character. Teachers talk to students about what makes a good friend, and about caring and sharing. (The classics!) At Alexander Ferguson School, in Calgary, Alberta, students are told to forgo cards for money that the school donates to the Calgary Humane Society. (Our animals need some love, too, after all.)
Elsewhere, high school students are focusing on the hormone-driven aspects of Valentine’s Day. The student council of Socorro High School, outside El Paso, Texas, sought to use this day to address teen pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases. Through their student activities director, it planned to partner with the New York City-based NuVo Condoms in order to distribute safety literature to all students, and condoms to seniors, according to the El Paso Times. The district, which follows an abstinence-only model for sex education, preemptively shut down the program after learning about it, with a reminder that district policy forbids giving students condoms.
No word yet on whether schools will train students for future Valentine’s Days they will spend on the couch, When Harry Met Sally on repeat, downing Ben and Jerry’s Americone Dream as though sweet dairy by-products will fill the void.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
A version of this news article first appeared in the Rules for Engagement blog.