Barber Bulletin

Pontiac Elementary School

A Reminder During the Holidays for our Classrooms:

As the December holidays approach, the Anti-Defamation League -- one of the nation's premier organizations defending religious liberty -- know that many school districts are faced with difficult questions about how to appropriately acknowledge the December holidays. In an effort to help you comply with the United States Constitution and create a school environment that celebrates diversity by respecting differing points of view concerning religion, we offer the following suggestions:

General Rule: When a school does choose to acknowledge the December holidays, it is essential that the school must never appear to endorse religion over non-religion or one particular religious faith over another.

Public schools must remain free from activities that could involve religious coercion. Because of their young age, students are particularly impressionable and susceptible to pressure to conform to the beliefs of the majority. Schools must take care to avoid endorsing the beliefs, practices or traditions of the majority religion.

Schools must be careful not to cross the line between teaching about religious holidays (which is permitted) and celebrating religious holidays (which is not). Celebrating religious holidays in the form of religious worship or other practices is unconstitutional. Teaching about a holiday will be constitutional if it furthers a genuine secular program of education, is presented objectively, and does not have the effect of endorsing, advancing or inhibiting religion.

Special school events, assemblies, concerts and programs must be designed to further a secular and objective program of education and must not focus on any one religion or religious observance. Religious music or drama may be included in school events, but the reason for including that music or drama must be to advance a secular educational goal. Such events must not promote or denigrate any particular religion, serve as a religious celebration, or become a forum for religious devotion.

Religious symbols are not appropriate seasonal decorations in public

schools. The classroom and school premises are the place where children

spend the majority of their day. It is important that all students feel comfortable

and accepted in their school. Symbols of religious holidays may make some

students uncomfortable and unwelcome because their holidays and traditions

are not represented or because they do not celebrate religious holidays at all.

In an effort to be ecumenical, it is not advisable to rely on information provided by a representative child of a minority religion. Students should not be put on the spot to explain their religious (or cultural) traditions. The student may feel uncomfortable and may not have enough information to be accurate. Moreover, by asking a student to be spokesperson for his/her religion, the teacher is sending a signal that the religion is too "exotic" for the teacher to understand. Finally, in certain cases, the teacher may be opening the door for proselytizing activity by the student, which must be avoided.

Remember: diversity includes religious diversity. In designing holiday programming it is essential to keep in mind that the children entrusted to your care likely have widely divergent religious points of view. The way you approach the December holidays will determine whether those children whose religious views fall outside of the majority's are made to feel welcome and comfortable in their school building or whether they will feel as if they do not belong.

Attached is “ADL’s Quick Guide to Displays for the December Holidays,” which includes guidance on appropriate in-school displays. ADL also has a web-page devoted to teaching about the December holidays. It includes:

Additionally, you may want to review the ADL publication entitled, Religion in the Public Schools, which provides a comprehensive look at the law of religion in the public schools in an easy to understand and use format.

UNITED WAY AND VERIZON ARE TEAMING UP TO SUPPORT PONTIAC!

United Way of the Midlands has joined forces with Verizon Wireless and is providing reading tutors to over 25 students in K-2 at Pontiac! Tutors will be trained and books will be provided to all students that participate in this program! Gina Rodriquez is helping head up this wonderful opportunity for us! Tentative start date for the program is January 12.

PTO holiday shop

Monday, Dec. 8th, 8:30am to Friday, Dec. 12th, 2:30pm

Extra PE room

Send students that have money daily.

Staff meeting - IEPs, grading, accommodations, modifications

Monday, Dec. 8th, 3:30pm

Media Center

Montessori field study

Tuesday, Dec. 9th, 9:30am-1:30pm

SC Museum

IAT

Tuesday, Dec. 9th, 1pm

Interventionist room

Morale Pal Reveal

Tuesday, Dec. 9th, 3:30pm

Media Center

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Science Safari Committee meeting

Wednesday, Dec. 10th, 3:30pm

Julie Weber's classroom

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

MATH MEETING with Carol Sample

Thursday, Dec. 11th, 8:30am-2:30pm

Math Specialist classroom

Please report to the math meeting during your planning time.

Staff Holiday Party!

Thursday, Dec. 11th, 7pm

Judy Ryan's house

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

Montessori Movie Night

Friday, Dec. 12th, 6-8pm

Cafeteria

RSVPs are enabled for this event.

LEGO ROBOTICS qualifying competition

Saturday, Dec. 6th, 8:30am

Lexington, SC, United States

Lexington, SC