A real Halloween fright: Costume contracts
Halloween seems innocuous enough -- kids (and adults) dress up in costumes and trick or treat for candy. Americans like it so much that they spend about $7 billion on it a year, making it the country’s second most commercial holiday.
Yet Oct. 31 remains one of the calendar’s most controversial days, and plenty of schools forbid kids from marking it during school time.
Halloween has its roots in Samhaim, an ancient Celtic festival, and later in the Catholic Hallowmas period of All Saints’ Day and All Souls’ Day, and the Roman festival of Feralia.
But for most of the rest of us, Halloween is a secular holiday for dressing up, having fun and eating unreasonable amounts of candy.
That doesn’t stop many schools from refusing to allow Halloween fun.
Some schools say they don’t have time for Halloween frivolity. Others worry that Halloween has religious overtones and families that see negative religious images and messages in Halloween might get offended.
And then there are the schools that get semi-legal and threatening before allowing a kid dressed up as a ghost to walk through the doors: They set down a ton of rules and require parents and students to sign costume contracts.
Here’s a contract that Jeannette Jr. High School in Sterling Heights, Michigan, required its parents and students to sign (punctuation is from the original, not my addition):
JEANNETTE JR. HIGH SCHOOL
HALLOWEEN COSTUME RULES/GUIDELINES
Parent Agreement Form 2010
1. All students wearing costumes to school MUST read and understand the costume guidelines. In addition, they MUST sign the registration form provided by their FIRST HOUR teacher. They must also have this form signed by their parent and submitted to their first hour teacher by the Wednesday, October 27th deadline. If form is not submitted in a timely manner, then student is NOT allowed to dress up.
2. All costume preparations are to be completed at home. (No dressing or applying of make-up or colored hairspray once students arrive at school).
3. No masks are to be worn during the school day.
4. NO COSTUMES THAT DEPICT VIOLENCE OR VIOLENT CHARACTERS!
5. Costumes that promote the use of illegal substances or activities or are derogatory or disrespectful are NOT allowed.
6. Teachers may take away any accessory that is used improperly or is considered inappropriate for school.
7. School rules regarding the dress code must be followed.
8. Students who have questions about the acceptability of their costume should check with their FIRST HOUR teacher by Wednesday, October 27th.
9. Students wearing inappropriate costumes will be sent to the office to call home for a change of clothes, and/or may result in one or both of the following disciplinary consequences: Saturday school, Suspension.
10. Students who do not submit parent agreement form by the Wednesday, Oct. 27th deadline and still choose to wear a costume will also face disciplinary action as deemed appropriate by administration.
11. Costumes MUST be worn all day.
KEEP IN MIND WE WOULD LIKE TO CONTINUE THIS TRADITION HERE AT JEANNETTE TO DRESS UP FOR HALLOWEEN, AND WE WOULD LIKE TO MAKE THIS A TRADITION FOR THE FUTURE...BE RESPECTFUL AND RESPONSIBLE!!
I have read and discussed with my child the Jeannette Jr. High School Halloween costume rules/guidelines. I understand that if my child violates any of the above rules, he/she will have earned Saturday school and/or suspension as a consequence. I also understand that this form must be signed and returned to my child’s 1st hour teacher, on or before Wednesday, October 27th.
(print student first and last name)
(print parent first and last name)
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| October 31, 2010; 9:22 AM ET
Tags: costumes, first amendment, halloween, halloween and schools, halloween costumes, history of halloween
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