Illinois elementary school officials decide to ‘cancel’ Halloween

Officials at an Illinois elementary school have decided to skip Halloween celebrations, so no candy will be handed out and no costumes will be allowed.

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Administrators of Lincoln Elementary School in Evanston said they want to avoid celebrating a cultural holiday some students do not recognize because of religious reasons, the Chicago Tribune reported.

In an email to the newspaper, Lincoln Elementary Principal Michelle Cooney said her school was focused on "building community and creating inclusive, welcoming environments for all."

"While we recognize that Halloween is a fun tradition for many families, it is not a holiday that is celebrated by all members of our school community and for various reasons," Cooney wrote in her email. "There are also inequities in how we have traditionally observed the holiday as part of our school day. Our goal at Lincoln is to provide space and opportunities for all students to be part of the community — not to create an environment that may feel exclusive or unwelcoming to any child."

Nejra Bajric, whose son attends the second grade at Lincoln Elementary, said she was frustrated by the decision.

“Halloween is a cultural American holiday, and it’s being canceled because of religious groups,” Bajric told the Tribune. “We’re a Bosnia and Muslim immigrant and refugee family. Halloween, when we moved (to Chicago) from a different country, was one of the greatest things.”

Bajric told the newspaper Halloween was "a way to assimilate" when she moved with her family from Bosnia in 1995.

"I didn't get to celebrate the other holidays," Bajric told the Tribune. "Halloween was my way of being like the other kids. Other students from other countries (at Lincoln), they get to feel like the other kids and participate in a cultural holiday."

Cooney told the newspaper parents were informed of the decision during the 2018-2019 school year.

"We did this a year in advance to allow our community time and space to process this change," Conney told the Tribune in a statement. "We acknowledge that this might feel like a loss to some."

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