- Associated Press - Friday, January 29, 2016

ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) - Students at a St. Paul elementary school won’t be exchanging valentines this year, or celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas and any other holiday.

Bruce Vento Elementary is joining other public schools that have opted out of holiday celebrations, striving to be more culturally sensitive and inclusive. The elementary school has a predominantly nonwhite student population.

Principal Scott Masini, in a letter addressed to parents, said his rationale is to avoid “encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening a culture of tolerance and respect for all. My personal feeling is we need to find a way to honor and engage in holidays that are inclusive of our student population.”

Masini’s letter, posted on social media, drew both criticism and support. School board policy “discourages programs and festivities that celebrate observances” unless mandated by law, according to a St. Paul Public Schools statement.

Other schools have made similar moves, the Star Tribune (https://strib.mn/1ZYgDs6 ) reported. Rosemount-Apple Valley-Eagan and Wayzata public schools have shifted from holiday parties to seasonal celebrations.

Yet, other schools, such as Wellstone Elementary, are leaving it up to the discretion of the teachers.

“We discourage it, but we know our communities well, and it may be happening - at a teacher’s discretion,” Principal Angelica Van Iperen said.

At Hopkins schools, the district has moved away from holiday parties during school hours, according to spokeswoman Jolene Goldadeshe said. But, she said there are friendship celebrations on Valentine’s Day that mesh with curriculum.

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Information from: Star Tribune, https://www.startribune.com

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