An MCPS Halloween: all tricks, no treats

 Halloween has, and always will be, one of the greatest holidays. Children enjoy picking out costumes, teens enjoy socializing with their friends, and adults get to act like kids. But this year, instead of a late night crammed with great partying or trick-or-treating, MCPS students from kindergarten to senior year are expected to go bed anticipating their typical early morning wakeup. For the first time in at least seven years, MCPS has scheduled the day after Halloween to be a regular school day.

According to the official MCPS calendar, the day off traditionally scheduled around the Halloween holiday is a professional day for report card planning and teacher preparation.

While this may have been the official reason for the day off, MCPS always arranged the end of the quarter so that report card preparation would conveniently fall on the day after Halloween.

According to Robin Confino, the Executive Director to the MCPS Chief Operating Officer, the process of creating a calendar for the upcoming school year begins in the summer, and the Superintendent then presents the calendar to the Board of Education for approval.

In the 2004-2005 school year the Board of Education originally scheduled the day after Halloween to be a school day, only to combine two previous half days into one day off after Halloween. This problem has been fixed before, so why didn’t it get changed this year?

According to Confino, MCPS believes scheduling a day off during the middle of the school week would be disruptive to the educational process, so they prefer not to do so. If possible, most holidays that are not fixed dates, such as staff professional days, are scheduled for Mondays or Fridays.

This is not to say that this year CHS students will not be going trick-or-treating or to a party. Most kids will still stay up late and eat plenty of unhealthy food anyway, and the attendance office should expect a lot of kids to have “doctors’ appointments” or “be sick” the morning after Halloween. But those who do come to school will either be well rested and angry that they didn’t get to have fun, or incredibly groggy and incoherent in class.

And this is the reason kids are frustrated with the grinches on the Board of Education. Halloween is one of the most fun days of the year to be in school. While it might not be possible to match the elementary school thrill of a costume parade on Oct. 31, CHS students enjoy the atmosphere of Halloween in school. Teachers and students alike get into the spirit, and students spend their day discussing costumes and plan what they will do later that night.

Admittedly, no one has complained about the timing of the end of the first quarter in the past two years; we have had both the day of Halloween and Nov. 1 off (because Halloween fell on a weekend). Our scheduling this year, however, is a double whammy. We lose the fun of Halloween in school and MCPS students sadly face a regular school day Nov. 1.

If the reasoning for the MCPS decision to have students go to school the day after Halloween is to avoid disrupting the education flow of the week, then the Board of Education has missed the mark. This year, the zombies won’t just be on the streets of Potomac Halloween night; they will all be walking the halls Nov. 1.