After the on Monday that would not celebrate Halloween, parents said they feared the trend would spread.
"I guess next you'll be taking the American flag out of classrooms and cancelling Christmas!" commented Tammy Bowles, who said that her 20-year-old daughter attended Rockburn and "still talks about how cool the Halloween parade was and that the teachers dressed up."
Rockburn Elementary School administrators that the school would not celebrate Halloween this year.
Rockburn cited the following reasons for choosing not to have a Halloween party: “…the time it takes to change into costumes, the challenge of managing many students in the bathrooms at the same time, the increasing number of students who do not celebrate Halloween, and the distraction it causes to the school day.”
The response by Elkridge Patch readers ranged from one parent applauding the school to others stating they were outraged.
“Our kids celebrate Halloween at home,” commented Michael Barr. “I've never understood why this was going on at school. Hooray for Rockburn for showing leadership and focusing on the education of our kids!”
Another parent said that on Tuesday, her fifth-grade daughter was lobbying for a reversal of the decision.
“My daughter is a fifth grader at Rockburn so this would have been her last year to participate,” commented Lisa Ann Bryant-Klapp. “My daughter took a petition to school today and already got over 100 signatures! We need to take a stand. Enough is enough! What will be next? No Valentines exchanges?”
Rockburn students are the only children in Elkridge attending a public elementary school that will not recognize Halloween, a choice that county administrators say is up to each school.
“There never has been a policy on Halloween parties," said Patti Caplan, spokeswoman for Howard County Public School System, in an e-mail to Elkridge Patch. "Schools have always had the choice of whether or not to have them.
“In the past decade, some school communities have moved to having fall festivals or harvest celebrations, things of that nature,” said Caplan. “Those that continue to have Halloween parties have been encouraging students to dress as characters from books rather than in gory or frightening costumes. That's the only change I've noticed.”
On Wednesday, Rockburn Principal Lauren Bauer shared her take on the issue.
“I have received feedback and mixed reviews regarding the decision,” wrote Bauer in an e-mail to Elkridge Patch. “Our PTA is hosting a Family Fun Event on Friday, Oct. 28. Children will be invited to come with their families and dress in costume.”
The event was originally planned as an Oct. 14 family gathering without costumes, said Bauer. "When I shared [feedback] with the PTA, they decided they would move the Family Fun event to Oct. 28 and invite students to wear costumes," said Bauer.
The event will fall outside the school day, at 7 p.m.
"As our school has grown and the crowd that gathers for the parade has grown, I have discussed our safety concerns with the school community, staff, parents, and at PTA meetings," said Bauer.
, and told Patch that they plan to have end-of-October festivities as usual.
“Elkridge Elementary School will have an October Parade (costumes optional),” said Principal Diane Mumford in an e-mail.
The parade will take place in the athletic fields behind the school from 9:40-10:20 a.m. Monday, Oct. 31, said Mumford. Visitors can attend and must register at 9:20 a.m.
“Students who do not wish to participate in the parade will complete an alternate activity,” wrote Mumford, who added that students don't have to wear costumes to walk with their peers. “After the parade, we will resume our academic schedule.”
Bellows Spring will have its parade this year on Oct. 31 from 2 p.m. to 3:15 p.m., according to Ginny Stickles, secretary of the principal.
"The kids really love it," said Stickles, who noted that the school wasn't able to have its parade last year due to school construction; instead, teachers held Halloween parties inside. This year's parade route will run from the ball fields to the parking lot and in front of the buildings.
"We have an alternative activity for children that do not celebrate," said Stickles. The Bellows Spring PTA is also holding a Harvest Hoedown on Oct. 28.
Deep Run Principal Tricia McCarthy said that her students will celebrate Halloween and that the issue at Rockburn could be fodder for discussion with parents and staff.
“Deep Run Elementary School will be having a Halloween parade and celebration this school year. We will do this on Monday, Oct. 31,” wrote McCarthy in an e-mail.
“So far, the community has not expressed a desire to change this practice nor has staff," said McCarthy. "However, we may choose to bring this topic up with parents later on in the school year to get their thoughts.”