Friday, April 12, 2024

New Hanover County releases holiday song guidance for teachers

Dr. Rick Holliday, New Hanover County School deputy superintendent, has released a guidance memo regarding holiday songs.(Port City Daily / FILE PHOTO)

UPDATE: This article has been clarified to include additional comments from Valita Quattlebaum

NEW HANOVER COUNTY—In New Hanover County, school staff are being informed on holiday song protocol.

Deputy superintendent Dr. Rick Holliday sent out a memo to New Hanover County School employees Thursday, Nov. 30, outlining which Christmas songs were permissible and which songs ought to be avoided. This memo is sent out annually this time of year, according to Holliday’s statement.

“Rudolf the Red Nose Reindeer” is fair game for elementary schools, but “Silent Night”, a song with a religious message, is not on its own. Holliday said a religious song such as “Silent Night” could be played as long as other religious songs “such as Hanukah songs and others” are played as well.

Valita Quattlebaum, communications officer for the New Hanover County Schools, said the memo is intended to remind employees of district policies.

“The memo about holiday songs was initially sent in 2013,” Quattlebaum wrote in an email. “It was sent because principals had questions and needed clarification about holiday performances in the schools.”

Holliday emphasized that students who may object to singing a song that references Christmas are permitted to decline without penalty.

As for friendly holiday greetings, school staff is free to wish their students a happy holiday however they choose.

“Please also note that it is ok for students or staff to say Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, Happy Kwanzaa, or any other seasonal greeting,” Holliday wrote. “I think we have the message now that we should never tell someone not to use those greetings.”

“The only thing that we as school system employees must guard against is attempts at proselytization,” he wrote. Proselytization is the act of attempting to convince someone to convert religions.

Quattlebaum says the purpose of the memo “is to emphasize the fact that the district encourages diversity and acceptance of various cultures and holiday celebrations.”

The full holiday song memo can be read below:

Nhcs Statement on Holiday Songs 2 by Johanna Ferebee on Scribd

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