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LETTER: Holding Hickman Prom on Good Friday is inappropriate

Monday, January 24, 2011 | 1:14 p.m. CST; updated 2:52 p.m. CST, Monday, January 24, 2011

As a Catholic alumnus of Hickman High School, I am disappointed with the unfortunate decision to hold this year's Hickman Prom on Good Friday.

The stated reasons — the lack of adequate facilities in Columbia, the lack of open dates and the increased costs associated with other dates — do not supersede the fact that prom, as it stands now, will be held on one of the most holy and solemn days of the Christian year. This will force many families to make a difficult decision whether to attend this festive event or to recognize the solemnity of Good Friday, the day that Christians throughout the world recall the crucifixion of Jesus Christ. Indeed, the decision to hold prom on Good Friday makes it truly impossible for some Hickman students to attend. It is inappropriate to plan an event as important as prom on a date where a large group of students and families are made to subvert their conscience and religious beliefs and others are prevented outright from attending.

Of course, I understand very well that Hickman is a public school and it is certainly possible to make scheduling decisions without regard for the holy days of the religion of the majority of its students. I would suggest, though, that this type of administrative decision-making is irresponsible and negligent. I also understand that there are other educational options for families who hold these values and beliefs, which certainly represent a viable alternative. Private, religious schools, however, are not an option for all students. It is simply not advantageous to the Columbia Public School system, Hickman High School or families with students attending Columbia schools for administrators to make decisions or pursue policies that ignore Christian religious beliefs, values and holy days.

On behalf of the many other Christian alumni, students, parents and members of the Hickman community that do not yet know about this decision, I would respectfully like to express how inappropriate and slighting this decision is and to request that it should be changed.

Jeffrey J. Pauls lives in Belleville, Ill. He is a 1994 graduate of Hickman High School.


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Comments

Gregory Brown January 25, 2011 | 8:00 a.m.

This impacts non-Catholic Protestants and Jews and Muslims as well as Catholics. Students with faith commitments re put in a bind. I suppose the majority of students are secular and don't care much when the even happens so long as it's flashy. I am resistant to inappropriate intrusions of religious matters into public education, but this is a matter of common civility and respect for some students and their families.

Of course, there's the related matter of venue and costs. These are rough times, and even fairly comfortable families are under economic pressure. The expectation that a significant rite of passage has to be staged in an expensive venue, with all the youthful vulgarity of ostentatious dress, limos, etc really benefits only those parasitic businesses that want to assure that the next events along the line are profit opps--weddings that are extravaganzas of conspicuous waste instead of dignified commitments, and carnival funerals.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith January 25, 2011 | 8:22 a.m.

Most - possibly all - Protestants and Jews are non-Catholic. :) Eastern Orthodox Catholics do not follow the same church calendar as Roman Catholics; their Easter and Christmas occur later.

(Report Comment)
Christopher Foote January 25, 2011 | 10:47 a.m.

There are a myriad of different religions out there in the world. Should the school district avoid scheduling events that conflict with special days for every religion, or only those faiths which are deemed worthy of special attention?

(Report Comment)
Charles Coleman January 25, 2011 | 12:12 p.m.

There are many religious holidays throughout the year, but very, very few as solemn and noteworthy as the Christian Good Friday: Yom Kippur, the start of Ramadan, come to mind. There should be no trouble for the school district to schedule around these very few days, as does the various Federal, State and local governments that do not schedule official meetings, sessions, etc. The fact that the facilities offered a cheaper rate should come as no surprise since no other organization, except the local athiests, would be looking to book an event on that day. I guess that since Columbia Public Schools has now found out that Good Friday is cheaper to book, the Prom will be held exclusively on that day in future, in the name of cost cutting.

(Report Comment)
Eric Cox January 25, 2011 | 2:22 p.m.

Good Friday is a time of sacrifice for Catholics not the world, believe what you want but don't expect rest of society to bend to your personal superstition.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown January 25, 2011 | 6:03 p.m.

Personally, when I worked for a public library in Ohio, I attempted to convince the administration to keep one large branch open on Easter to meet the needs of non-Christians who were a significant part of the service area population for that facility. Sunday work was paid voluntary time, and I knew that there wouldn't be a problem finding staff. Christmas has become so thoroughly secular that it wasn't an issue. Of course, my efforts went unfulfilled, if not completely unheeded. so many problems arise from having a hedonistic, secularised social setup with an overlay of piety controlled by a small number of sects. But I will maintain that making a few concessions isn't a bad idea for overall happiness.
As I hinted above, the economic exploitation of "rites of passage" is more offensive than the religious part.

(Report Comment)
Gregory Brown January 25, 2011 | 6:05 p.m.

Personally, when I worked for a public library in Ohio, I attempted to convince the administration to keep one large branch open on Easter to meet the needs of non-Christians who were a significant part of the service area population for that facility. Sunday work was paid voluntary time, and I knew that there wouldn't be a problem finding staff. Christmas has become so thoroughly secular that it wasn't an issue. Of course, my efforts went unfulfilled, if not completely unheeded. So many problems arise from having a hedonistic, secularised social setup with an overlay of piety controlled by a small number of sects. But I will maintain that making a few concessions isn't a bad idea for overall happiness.
As I hinted above, the economic exploitation of "rites of passage" is more offensive than the religious part.

(Report Comment)

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