- The Washington Times - Tuesday, December 22, 2015

A high school principal in Bangor, Maine, reversed a decision Tuesday and will allow a “Hello Kitty” Christmas tree in the school.

Principal Paul Butler of Bangor High School said school officials have a responsibility “to ensure that the sharing of any one tradition ultimately highlights the universal nature of holiday celebration.”

“The Christmas tree that has been the focus of this discussion does so, and is therefore appropriate for the school setting,” he said.

Last week, school officials told math teacher Catherine Gordon to remove her Hello Kitty Tree, which is pink and covered with ornaments depicting the Japanese cartoon character, even though it bore no religious symbols. She said she has put a tree in her classroom for nearly 30 years and never had a complaint from students or parents.

In a post on her Facebook page after she was ordered to take down the tree, the teacher said the school’s attitude toward Christmas had been changing.

“When I first started teaching, we had parties the last day of school before vacation and the kids would bring in cookies and we played holiday music — none of that is allowed now,” she said. “I feel that this is definitely a turning point in our society — when everything offends everyone all the time — it just sucks the joy out of everything.”

Rep. Bruce Poliquin, Maine Republican, had criticized the principal’s order to remove the tree.

“Displaying a decorative Christmas tree is a longstanding tradition in our country,” he said in a statement. “It should not be condemned, especially in our classrooms. Our local school teachers and parents should have the ultimate say in how to run their classrooms so long as it does not pose any danger to students or the community. I find the school department’s decision baseless and completely counter to all that our nation stands for.”

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