Is Holiday Equality Necessary?
By Kiara Alvarez
Most students and faculty here at Council Rock North will admit that they are excited for Winter Break. This year, Winter Break begins on December 24th (Christmas Eve), and students return to school on January 4th. For some, the break provides a time to relax and be free of stress, but others are reunited with distant family and are able to celebrate whatever holidays they may practice. Over the break, only two national holidays are celebrated: Christmas and New Year’s Day. Considering that practicing the Christian calendar is a national procedure, it is no surprise that we have these two holidays off. However, not all members of our school celebrate Christian holidays like Christmas. The other two common winter holidays in our school are Hanukkah and Diwali.
Most people know the history behind Christmas, but a small number of people know the history behind Hanukkah, and even fewer are aware of the history behind Diwali or its existence in general.
In short, Christmas is a Christian celebration of Jesus’s birthday, Hanukkah (the festival of lights) is a Jewish holiday commemorating the time when a wax candle was supposed to last one night but instead lasted eight (thus there being eight nights), and Diwali (also known as the festival of lights) is a Hindu commemoration of India’s new year. Although Diwali occurs typically sometime in October or November, it is still celebrated at roughly the same time that others are beginning their Christmas preparations.
Despite the observance of Hanukkah by many, Shira Palmer, a Jewish freshman here at Council Rock North who is quite religious and even keeps Kosher, believes that Christmas is much more important to the Christian community than Hanukkah is to the Jewish one and thus deserves a day off school.
“We get Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur off [, and] they are high holidays,” she began. “Hanukkah is eight days [and not as] significant. I don’t even go to services for [Hanukkah because it’s] not an all-day [event and I’ve] realized it’s not the same type of holiday as Christmas. [Also,] it [would be] too much [time off] if we accounted for every single holiday. [However,] I think everyone should have a minimal understanding [of every holiday].”
However, Sneha Sing, a Hindu senior here at North who celebrates both Christmas and Diwali, believes that Diwali is worthy of a day off school, as well.
“Diwali is just one day [and] we get so many other days off [that] one day won’t hold us back,” she argued. “I know a lot of students here [at North] that celebrate Diwali [and] it is a very religious holiday. [It] takes up a lot of time [because] I need time to pray to God.”
Her peer Darshana Paramesh, who also celebrates Diwali, agreed with her point entirely. She added that, “All religions are equally important,” when explaining her reasoning for why Diwali should be given a day off.
After being given a brief description of what Diwali is, Mrs. Susan McCarthy, Council Rock North’s principal, voiced her opinion on the matter of Diwali too.
“I would agree that there is an overall rationale [and] we are respectful of people’s beliefs, so we need to reevaluate periodically if it [is] important to the community,” she noted.
In our school (and nationally too), Christmas has been established as the most celebrated winter holiday, and part of Christmas’s popularity may be due to its iconic mascot, jolly old Saint Nicholas, or its catchy tunes. In fact, there are many people who are not even Christian who celebrate it, but why?
One example is Sneha Sing, who explained why a Hindu might choose to celebrate the wintry festivity. “Most Americans celebrate it [, and it has] a happy atmosphere,” she clarified.
Shira Palmer again had a similar viewpoint and chose to elaborate more on the aspect of a child’s benefit.
She pointed out that “[Christmas is] more child friendly, and it’s great for the kids,” when referring to Santa Claus.
However, North freshman and Christmas celebrant Gonzalo Appiani believes the advertisements have become overbearing.
“I see Christmas commercials every day,” he stated, “and [the media has] sucked the joy out of Christmas!”
With a similar opinion, Mrs. McCarthy spoke about Christmas and the public. “Social media promotes it,” she stated. “[It’s an] all-inclusive phenomenon [with] shopping and stores that becomes a never ending cycle year after year.”
As a member of the Jewish community, Shira Palmer shared her opinion on its advertising.
“As soon as Halloween ends, it’s Christmas this, Christmas that! It’s so annoying,” she exclaimed. “I think of winter and associate it with Christmas trees, even though I don’t even have one.”
Although they all came from different families and traditions, these students all shared one idea, and that was that Christmas is the most publicized holiday. Holidays are definitely not equal, even in one’s own religion since some holidays are more significant than others, but perhaps we should reevaluate which holidays should provide days off school to ensure more equality.
Volunteering is a Path to Success
By Emily Schmidt
Last week I was sitting on the bus when I overheard a freshman arguing with his friend about volunteering in high school. One boy believed that a certain number of community service hours are necessary to graduate, while the other boy thought they are entirely optional. As the only senior on the bus, I felt an obligation to dispel the unnecessary argument.
As one of the few districts in Pennsylvania where volunteer hours are recorded on transcripts, Council Rock School District has participated in the unique LINCS program for years. In the previous issue of the Indianite, I incorrectly stated that the district previously required students to partake in volunteer service in order to graduate. After speaking with Ms. Ann Grace, Assistant of the Career Services Office, I became informed that volunteer hours were never necessary but always optional.
To dispel confusion among past and present students of Council Rock School District, it is important to review the rules of the LINCS program under the Counseling Department’s webpage. Foremost, there will be new guidelines pertaining to background checks and clearances on February 1st, 2016 (see the web page for specifics). If an individual working directly with students does not fulfill the requirements prior to this date, all credits fulfilled after the date will be rejected.
Before completing volunteer hours, students should get the organization pre-approved to avoid disappointment and argument. The organization must be a non-profit organization and have no political or religious affiliation unless the work completed through the organization is non-religious. In these cases, the work must be carefully documented, as well.
Another important thing to note is the National Honor Society’s requirement of volunteer hours. To be part of this prestigious chapter at North, juniors must complete 45 service hours by the spring of their junior year and 50 hours by the fall of their senior year.
For more detailed information on the LINCS program, please visit http://www.crsd.org//Domain/222 or contact Dr. Helen Gross, Career-Community Service Coordinator, for questions at email@example.com.
Despite these opportunities, apathetic students often make excuses to avoid volunteering: I don’t have time. I can’t find any local places to volunteer. It’s not worth the work. It’s not required. But most of these excuses are not valid.
Just within Newtown’s wonderful community, I had the opportunity to work with Council Rock North senior Emma Lambert on her organization “Love Knots Preemie Bundles” this past summer. Launched last February, Lambert’s organization works to collect knitted or crocheted booties, hats, cuddle blankets, and bonding hearts for local premature babies. She celebrated her program’s immense success on October 6 at Newtown’s Corner Bakery. Having far surpassed her goal of creating and delivering 100 gift bag bundles, Lambert received the prestigious Girl Scouts Gold Award on November 6.
To validate my own personal experience, I looked to other resources to find the benefits of volunteering. According to the University of Nevada’s Area Extension Specialist Molly Latham, “The benefits reaped by the young people offering their service have a positive impact on them personally both immediate and into the future.”
Specifically, students who volunteer for an hour or more weekly are 50% less likely to participate in negative behaviors such as drinking, smoking, or doing drugs. Students who volunteer in high school are three times more likely to volunteer as adults, and 81% of Americans who volunteered in or prior to high school donate to charitable organizations as adults.
Statistics don’t lie. Thus, perhaps volunteer service should be mandatory once again in the Council Rock School District, as well as other schools in the area. It could be a true win-win situation for the students and the community. Honestly, what do we have to lose?
By Shira Palmer
Just a few weeks ago, most Americans celebrated Thanksgiving. It is a time when people travel far and wide to spend time and eat delicious food with their family. It is also a time during which people should be about reflecting on what they have and not what they want. Freshman Kelly Orr agrees with this idea of Thanksgiving.
“Thanksgiving is when everyone gets together to enjoy food and each other’s company.”
Despite this common notion of the holiday, Black Friday seems to put a damper on the possibility of a joyous Thanksgiving. Stores, including Macy’s and Target, opened at 6 PM or earlier on Thanksgiving Day, leading many people to cut meals short to save on holiday gifts.
Orr also commented, “I think that [Black Friday] sort of takes away from Thanksgiving because you have family members leaving Thanksgiving early to go wait outside a store for five hours.”
In addition to stores’ opening midday Thursday, Black Friday deals were available all weekend. Enormous chain stores like Best Buy and Staples had sales that didn’t stop on Friday. No one had to rush out to buy gifts because “amazing” deals were available all weekend. If weekend deals weren’t enough, people had the option to participate in Cyber Monday on which people could order everything that they need for the holiday season, plus free shipping.
To fill this consumer demand, though, many people had to work on the holiday instead of being with their families. Thousands of jobs had to be filled to support the demand on Thanksgiving. Are these workers less deserving of time with their families than others are? Freshman Sydney Pasemann had strong ideas about this topic.
Pasemann stated, “I think having stores open on Thanksgiving is ruining the holiday.”
Thus, Thanksgiving should be an enjoyable holiday where people can take a breather from their everyday lives. Black Friday has, without a doubt, ruined Thanksgiving and will continue to ruin it in the upcoming years until we all agree to curtail our consumerism in favor of family.