Missing School for Holidays


photo courtesy of timeanddate.com

The common celebratory food for Rosh Hashana, the Jewish New Year

Sophie Cannon, head staff writer

“No sorry, I won’t be in school today, it’s actually Christmas, which is a Christian holiday. I’ll have to be in church and can’t come to take the test”.  This phrase sounds wrong, right? Of course we get Christmas off of school! It’s a holiday, and we even get two weeks off surrounding it depending on when it falls. However, this privilege isn’t given to some at Edina High School. For Jewish and Muslim students in particular, holidays are frequent and missing school is not easy to make up. In addition, every absence, while still considered excused, still shows up on schoolview and sometimes can be put on a contract, even if by accident. I know that the school cannot accommodate for every religion by giving school-wide days off. However, there are things that the administration could do to make it far easier on the student to observe their holiday without added stress.

First off, there are calendars that are readily available online with every holiday for the entire year. In fact, even the EHS school agendas have most holidays pre-written inside of them. If the administration were to consult one of those calendars before planning events, it would make life that much easier for the students who suffer the consequences of observing a holiday. Personally, I have had to miss many days of spirit week over the years, and even once the homecoming dance itself fell on a Jewish holiday. Thankfully, I wasn’t yet old enough to go, but I know that there were a handful of Edina High School students that year who most likely had to choose between missing their homecoming dance and going to services with their families and keeping the holiday.

Missing a day of school when you are sick sucks, no doubt about it. The only plus is that you can log onto moodle, email your teachers, and usually get your work done within the hour. For students who celebrate holidays, that is sometimes impossible. At least for me, most Jewish holidays are centered around reflection, synagogue, and being around family. On a holiday, I am barely on my phone, let alone at home doing homework on my computer. One day holidays are rough, but once you get to day two of missing school, falling behind is inevitable.

That brings me to testing. It’s a mean twist of fate that tests always seems to fall on holidays. No, I’ve never had a teacher not let me make it up, and usually they are pretty nice about it. However, for some, taking tests in the hall, early morning, or during a noisy collab time is much harder than in a testing environment. At least for me, this proves true, and I feel at a disadvantage when I’m forced to do this. Again, this problem could be easily solved by consulting a calendar when planning a lesson schedule and testing dates. I’m not saying that every single date must be accommodated for, but really there are only two Jewish holidays in September and I’ve had big tests fall on both days! Really?

My last point is less about me and even less about students. Recently I found out that teachers and staff at EHS have to use their vacation days and comp time in order to miss school to observe holidays. So yes, for students it’s a major pain to be behind in a class, but for a teacher, they are missing a paid day of work! This just doesn’t seem fair to me.

Even though non-Christians are a minority at Edina High School, students and teachers alike, there are some small things that can change to promote equality in terms of religious holiday observance allowance. So yes, as fun as it is for me to be able to have Good Friday and Christmas off too, I should also be able to celebrate my own holidays with the same allowed freedom and acceptance by the school and administration.