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Halloween Tradition to Continue at Elkridge Schools Other than Rockburn

The announcement that Rockburn would not celebrate Halloween generated friction in the community.

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.”

Ashling October 05, 2011 at 11:33 PM
This is an ELEMENTARY school, let's not take ourselves too seriously. Kids still need to be kids and have some celebrations, in school. It's developmentally appropriate. The goal here is to foster a love of learning this must include some fun-time. I respect that not everyone celebrates Halloween, optional participation seems reasonable, however traditions are important to children. Rockburn seems to be slowly phasing all non-academic traditions out, but this has not lead to better performance. Most research on learning will point in a different direction....Einstien never used flashcards!
Kim Dixon October 06, 2011 at 11:41 AM
America is supposed to be the melding pot. Your not melding by trying to change everyones traditions. And I get it some don't want to do it fine its against their customs religion ect but that does not give them the right to ruin it for the rest of the kids.
LocalMom October 06, 2011 at 01:57 PM
Come on folks, are you really going to make a one-hour Halloween parade your issue? While I agree that it's elementary school, and there should be fun, non-traditional learning activities, nobody will suffer if they can't walk in their costume at school! They aren't taking Halloween away, you can still trick or treat and decorate your house. A Friday night event sounds like a wonderful solution to me.
Working Mommy of 3 October 06, 2011 at 05:33 PM
If we do not make an issue out of an hour long costume parade, what else with the Administration begin taking away? This is a huge deal. I really hope the parents fight for the tradition to continue.
Eileen October 06, 2011 at 05:50 PM
Since 1993, Halloween at RES was a day filled with excitement, laughter, children dressed in costumes that many created with their family, music, crafts, food, all the things that make special memories. And who could ever forget the infamous Specialist Teachers who the community came out to see what their "theme" would be each year. The parents and kids LOVED it........so did the teachers. Look in any RES Memory Book and you will see this beloved tradition in pictures along with the smiles and joy of both students and teachers, parents and the former administrations! Anyone who thinks that stopping a lifelong tradition at RES "is in the best interest of our school" just doesn't GET IT. Sounds like the "treats" at RES have been "tricked"....
Elle October 06, 2011 at 11:37 PM
The reasons they give for not celebrating Halloween translates into......They're too lazy to be bothered or deal with it! So what if its "challenging"? Its only for 1 1/2 hours. This is just so lame.
Josh October 07, 2011 at 10:55 AM
Traditions are important and should continue. As an adult some of my strongest memories from elemetary school are from the Halloween parades during elementary school. This does not mean I did not learn, these events and experiences are an important part of growing up and learning. Feedback from the community is important so chime in.
Ginger Freint October 09, 2011 at 02:12 PM
Children grow up so quickly, let them be children before it's too late.
LovingFamily October 09, 2011 at 03:07 PM
If we could have as many parents as possible contact the Superintendent's office at (410) 313-6600 and let them know that Principal Lauren Bauer does not have the best interest of our Rockburn kids at heart. We pay just as much taxes as all the other residents in Howard County and our kids deserve to have a Principal who has their best interest at heart. This month, Mrs. Bauer has abolitioned the annual Halloween parade. Last month, she stopped any food from being apart of the monthly Ranger Club birthday celebration. Why would you cut food out of this celebration? Did that pose a security risk or was it difficult to manage too many students in the bathroom? These were the reasons Mrs. Bauer gave for ending the Halloween parade. Are they going to be the same reasons for ending other activities at Rockburn?
Eileen October 09, 2011 at 04:07 PM
I can tell you folks, the only way things will change is to inundate the superintendent at 410-313-6600 with phone calls. Parents have the power. OR, better yet, make an appt. to see the Superintendent and take the petitions the kids wrote, and take every copy of the Memory Books from the past years with all of the Halloween Pictures in them......let the Superintendent see how "difficult" it was to have a parade the last 17 years.......and is there more of a security risk now than there was back in 2001????? I don't think so. Make the calls........watch what happens.
Jeanne DeBoy October 11, 2011 at 01:51 PM
So glad to know that Dr. Mumford will be keeping with tradition and allowing the Halloween festivities to continue at EES. The kids LOVE this celebration ~ as do the parents.
Lin October 12, 2011 at 08:26 PM
wow - really people? This was a school administration decision, and I'm sure your current PTA president AS A PARENT probably had a personal opinion about this - but this is NOT a PTA issue - yes, parents have the right to be heard - but the PTA does not make school policy, so it's pointless to spend hours at a PTA meeting discussing it. You parents were given a SEPERATE forum to make your voices heard. I think it's a shame to do away with the parade - but parents need to talk directly with the administrator that made the decision - not make it the business of the PTA to do your work for you. SHAME ON YOU ALL for taking this out on your PTA leadership - they did not make this decision - they cannot change this decision. Until you've walked a mile in a PTA presidents shoes I suggest you stop being so critical. As I understand it - NONE of you stepped up last year when Rockburn was in danger of NOT HAVING a PTA President!!!! Isn't it true that your current President is serving a 3rd term because NO ONE else would do it? It's so easy to be critical when you are not in the hot seat - put your money where your mouth is - if you don't like your PTA leadership step up and do something about it. Sounds to me though that the PTA did what it could by changing their Fall Festival date to one that coincides more directly with Halloween so the kids could have some kind of celebration with costumes - and oh by the way who is making sure that happens - why yes it's the President!
RB_Dad October 13, 2011 at 11:04 AM
Cool - I think we've got a tremendous slate for next year's PTA.....I will go ahead and nominate now. Lisa Ann B-K for President, with LovingFamily for VP!!! Question 1 for discussion: Tell us your qualifications, and what makes you qualified to serve all of Rockburn's students. Please tell us how you have served Rockburn and/or the PTA in the past few years so that we can be assured that someone is finally up to this task. Is there any reason why you (both Lisa Ann and the LovingFamily) had not volunteered to serve on the PTA last year? Thanks - it looks like this year's Board is a done deal, but I'm looking forward to working with you next year.
Cheryl October 13, 2011 at 02:31 PM
Lin - The Halloween Parade WAS a PTA issue and last week's PTA meeting was "OUT OF ORDER" since this discussion was only offered after the meeting was adjourned, according to the PTA Council president. The PTA Council President would like to know who at the Council misinformed the PTA President so that person doesn't misinform anyone else in the future. I'm an elected PTA delegate and was interested in hearing the Halloween discussion because I was also stunned at the news. I was wondering when the Fall Festival event was discussed, voted on & approved since I was at the September meeting and never heard it mentioned. Once last Wednsday's PTA meeting was adjourned, after waiting for over 10 minutes & never hearing when or where the discussion was being held, I began to leave, but turned around. After waiting a little longer, a friend and I spoke with Mrs. Bauer. I tried to explain to the PTA President that parents would have loved to have heard this discussion and using Robert's Rules of Order, it should have been held during the meeting. I believe parents are upset because they feel the PTA is where you're supposed to be updated on school issues. And yes, the Patch article last week did state a "collaboration" with the PTA. And soon after, ironically, the Fall Festival was scheduled as a PTA activity on the Friday before Halloween. Lastly, I applaud Lisa Ann Bryant-Klapp for being brave enough to ask questions & engage her kids to follow through on what they believe in.
Elizabeth Janney (Editor) October 13, 2011 at 08:33 PM
Patch welcomes conversation among readers. When contributing, it may help to bear in mind this tidbit from our Terms of Use: "Communities thrive when people care about each other, and as such, Patch expects all of its users to be respectful of others."
RespectfulatRockburn October 14, 2011 at 12:57 AM
Thank you, Ms. Janney. Children learn from example...my kids tell me they learn about the 3 Rs at Rockburn and being respectful is the first one. Apparently some adults need a reminder.
Regina McGuire October 15, 2011 at 01:40 AM
Not only do we need to be respectful of others, but also need to put our names to it. It is easy to hide behind a computer screen. I doubt many of you that have been posting would have said half of this directly to Loren and the administration. I am upset as well about the cancelling of the Halloween Parade. If you expect the administration to take us seriously or to listen to us and overturn the current decision, we need to act like adults and not resort to name calling. I was head of the nomination committee for the current PTA. We had one persoon step up for the President position and no one for the VP position. The person who stepped up for presdient and was elected resigned when he realized how much work was involved! I tried very hard to find people to run for the positions. It is easy to criticize when you are not doing the work and trying to balance you family life. Rockburn has always been a friendly and family enviornment. I am appalled at what has gone on in alot of these comments. If you have the nerve to post it you had better have the nerve to put your name to it. Loren and the rest of the current PTA- thank you for all your hard work that you have done for the Rockburn students and for the hours that it has taken you away from your familes. Regina McGuire
Terri McCulley Hicks October 15, 2011 at 09:21 PM
Seriously??? Alot has changed in school. Keeping traditions would be nice but these are the times we live in. Many schools no longer celebrate these events. Lets not sound like kids will suffer injury by this decision. Kids are feeding off how parents are reacting. Like other children who don't have this event in school, RES kids will enjoy Halloween weekend at home. Monday they will go to school and then go home to fun time Trick or Treating. Please prepare because some day there will be no Valentines Day Party and LOVE will go on. I read the PTA President resigned because of this and all the criticism. Who of you out spoken complaining parents will step up and take on the burden. Many will complain...few will heed the call. I have read that parents are upset that they were lied to or misinformed regarding a Family Festival. SO WHAT!!! If in the end you have the Festival, who cares when or what reason for the timing. If this craziness is any sign of how the administration though people would act then I would have misled them too. To Picket the school and Protest seems a bit much for a Halloween Parade. If you do the Police may give you handcuffs and a ride especially if you're on school property when children and school are in session. In the end school will go on and this too shall pass. Ms. Bauer deserves respect even if you do not like her. Attacking her is not setting a good example so show some class. Many other battles .. LIFE goes on. Terri McCulley Hicks
kdruffel October 15, 2011 at 11:14 PM
Thank you Loren for all your hard work, and thank you to everyone else on our PTA board. You guys work soooo hard to make such wonderful events for our kids!!! You deserve to hear a big thank you from everyone, and you deserve it frequently.
Yvonne October 17, 2011 at 12:49 PM
Nothing like passing the buck. I feel sad for your school, students and other schools that choose to be so anal retentive. The teachers at RES should ask for volunteers to help with the kids costumes etc. Many parents make themselves available to help the teachers when requested. Perhaps it’s time for a new administration both at school and with the PTA.
E October 17, 2011 at 06:34 PM
I Have 3 kids and my oldest is in college and one is a senior in High school. My youngest is at RES. All of my kids attended RES and LOVED the Halloween Parade!!! My oldests are so upset for my youngest! They want the kids to somehow protest. This may sound silly but it is the truth!! I was very surprised when I found out I was having another child but clearly remember thinking " Well now I will still be able to go to the RES Halloween parade!!!!!!" It was so sad when my kids went to middle school and could not celebrate it anymore. It was a great tradition. This is truly a BUMMER!!
Barbara October 17, 2011 at 09:03 PM
While I absolutely have loved the parade over the years at Rockburn, I can understand and trust the decision Ms. Bauer has made to curtail this event. Rockburn has grown to over 700 children, and after volunteering at many events over the years, I have seen the changes that come alone with such growth. School-wide events and parties are huge, particularly for the staff and teachers. As far as our PTA is concerned, shame on those of you who chose to verbally assault those who spend endless hours working to make our school a better place (and they have). In years past, the Rockburn community has been welcoming, warm, and supportive. I am disgusted by the personal attacks geared toward our PTA President and truly mourn the loss of all the work and support that came our way from Mrs. Agrusti. This is a huge loss for our school. Our Rockburn community has always been supportive, respectful, and kind and I hope the trend will return. Barb Babs
Monica October 17, 2011 at 11:09 PM
Now that the pta president resigned, do you think Ms. Klapp will volunteer the 20-30 hours per week Ms. Agrusti did? Oh wait, Ms. Klapp isn't even a pta member nor has she ever been. I'd like to see somebody put their money where their mouth is. Thank you Mrs. Agrusti, the majority of Rockburn appreciated all you did for our children!
Monica October 17, 2011 at 11:20 PM
I'm sorry. I meant to write that Ms. Klapp has never attended a PTA event. I don't know if she is a member of PTA. I am upset because we lost a valuable person over people that complain on the internet rather than attending meetings like the rest of the adults as RES.
Monica October 18, 2011 at 11:07 PM
Funny, I recall a post right before yours that said, thanks, that would be lovely that has magically disappeared. It said Knapp for pta president. I can screen grab it if you wish as you can view old versions of websites. I guess you didn't mean it.
T Smith October 19, 2011 at 07:35 PM
Monica do you see how disrespectful you are being to Ms. Klapp, another member of the Rockburn family? Is this the way to welcome and encourage any PTA member to become more active? I think not. How you are acting is how Rockburn is believed to treat those who are not in the Rockburn PTA clique. Maybe this is why very few people step up to volunteer for the PTA, because they might get your harsh treatment.
Shannon Brazil October 24, 2011 at 02:30 AM
It's so sad that we're having the same Halloween issues in Portland, Oregon and in many other cities across the country. In our case they simply banned costumes and parties. I wish they would have offered a night to dress-up. Instead, we're forced to lose one of the traditions I loved most of all when I was a kid. http://bananafish1.wordpress.com/2011/10/12/halloween-costumes-banned/
Vicky goings October 29, 2011 at 07:46 PM
Maybe if you'd spent more time in the classroom rather than attending Halloween parades, you'd know that America is the melting pot (not the melding pot).

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