A simple school calendar change has erupted into a protracted battle. The school board, despite public outcry, changed from “Christmas break” to “Holiday Break” months ago — and the public keeps fighting back.
“There are signs all over town: ‘There’s Still a Christmas,’ ‘Bring Back Christmas.’ There’s some little kids in town picking up on this and wondering if Santa is going to come to their house,” said attorney Dennis Scollins, the Marshfield School Committee’s longest-serving member and one of two who stood up for St. Nick when the board voted 3-2 on Sept. 9 to replace “Christmas” with “holiday” for the Dec. 24 to ?Jan. 2 vacation.
More than 4,245 signatures collected by a pro-Noel petition drive prompted the special meeting at 8 p.m.
Board chairwoman Marti Morrison said she “loves Christmas” but led the charge to scrub the calendar and is now being assailed around town as “the Grinch” because of it.
“Supposedly our whole country is based on religious freedom,” Morrison said. “I certainly appreciate when people feel very strongly about their religious background, but as a School Committee member, my job is to make decisions I believe are in the best interest of our town.”
In a heavily Irish Catholic town, Morrison said, “The world around us looks very different than Marshfield. We want our students to be open to differences.”
Pro-“holiday” voter Carol Shrand, the board’s vice-chair, said, “This is really about using inclusive language that reflects the diversity of faiths here in Marshfield. We take an oath to serve all our students and each and every one of them needs to feel welcome, included and represented.”
Elaine Taylor, whose children are now grown, has been the driving force behind the resurrection of Christmas vacation. Her backers will be hitting the streets today holding signs and playing Christmas carols, as well as lighting up the phone lines, reminding supporters to turn out tonight.