You can’t believe in Santa if you’re in the third grade in Grand Junction, Colorado.
A lesson in telling the difference between fiction and nonfiction was the source of alarm for third-graders at Clifton Elementary School who were told by their teacher on Thursday that characters such as Santa Claus and the tooth fairy do not exist.
Clifton resident Mike Dickeyâ€™s 8-year-old daughter, Kalli, came home from school and began to cry at the revelation, he said. Dickey said he called the school and was told by administrators that the teacher â€œshouldnâ€™t have done that.â€
â€œI feel like my daughter just lost a part of her innocence â€¦ but maybe I am overreacting,â€ Dickey said Thursday night. He added that debunking myths about Santa Claus, the Easter bunny and other similar characters should either be left to parents or the child to figure out on their own.
â€œI just told her: â€˜If you want to believe in something, then go ahead and believe in it,â€™â€ Dickey said.
School District 51 spokesman Jeff Kirtland said the elementary school received phone calls from parents Friday who said their children also were upset by the lesson.
During a literacy-class discussion Thursday, first-year teacher Karen Ricciardi grouped Santa Claus in a category with other fictitious characters. After hearing some students gasp at the designation, Ricciardi clarified to say there are just some people who donâ€™t believe in Santa.
â€œAnd there was no further discussion,â€ Kirtland said, adding that Ricciardi will apologize to any families who felt their childâ€™s beliefs were â€œdisrupted.â€
â€œItâ€™s important that parents understand how to address issues that come up at school, and thatâ€™s through the teacher, principal (and administrators) â€¦ Rising to the level of mass media is not how to solve an issue,â€ Kirtland added.