Opinion: The nerve of the ORR school district not to give Good Friday off

Jan 23, 2023

To the editor:

A recent letter to the editor whined about the Old Rochester Joint School committee voting to make “Good Friday” a full school day for the 2023-2024 school year. The subliminal message of course is the disappointment and incredulousness  of the author of that letter over the fact that the ORR School District will not agree to impose the preferred religious holiday of the far right on the entirety of a diverse student body and their families. Well frankly, I too am disappointed that the ORR School District did not vote to give our kids Wednesday  February 1, 2023 off to celebrate Imbolc, a Pagan and Wiccan festival serving to celebrate the halfway point between the winter solstice and spring equinox. Given our diverse student body and free thinkers there must be a few Pagans and Wiccans amongst us. I am equally appalled that the Joint Committee voted to keep the kids in school on Wednesday February 15, Parinirvana, the day in the Mahayana Buddhism religion also known as Nirvana Day. This is a day of celebration commemorating Buddha’s death and attainment of final nirvana (not the band although Kurt Cobain is a god in my musical world).  There are other “gods” besides the Christian one after all.

And another thing that really irks me is that the Joint Committee voted to be in school a full day on February 17, 2023, the day before Lailat al Miraj, a Muslim holy day (maybe that is where the word “holiday” comes from) celebrating Muhammad’s pilgrimage from Mecca to Jerusalem and his ascension into heaven when he arrived.

There are over 70 Interfaith Religious and High Holy Days over the course of a year and roughly 4,200 religions across the globe to accommodate. To be fair, in the recent words of another school committee member, if we are to accommodate one, we must accommodate all, give everybody a fair shake at enjoying their high “holy-day”, not just the Christians. In order to do that coupled with the right wing demand that we teach our children only their chosen curriculum, I don’t think the kids will hit their required 180 days of learning.

Alternatively, if parents want their kids to celebrate multiple religious holidays which fall on school days with a day off from school, maybe try homeschooling or enrolling your kids in a religious-based school. Also, this thing called The Establishment Clause of the First Amendment - that little amendment which these folks claim to hold near and dear when it comes to their “genuinely held religious beliefs” superseding and justifying denial of say, that same First Amendment right to privacy and autonomy over one’s own body - maybe read it.

Nicki Demakis, Mattapoisett