Religious holidays should be publicly acknowledged

Many students at Hinsdale Central celebrate the holiday Eid, but are not excused from school.


Many students at Hinsdale Central celebrate the holiday Eid, but are not excused from school.

With District 86’s diverse student body, it’s no surprise that over the years we have seen on certain holidays such as Eid or Holi that many students didn’t attend school. Despite students having excused absences for those days, the workload piles up and can be hard to make up. District 86 needs to make changes to the calendar that represent the diversity in our schools by accounting for student holidays. 

As a student who takes part in celebrations for Eid, it can be very difficult to enjoy the festivities because of all the work I have to do for school, so I don’t get behind in my classes. The past few years Eid has fallen towards the end of the school year; a rigorous time for all students as grades start to be finalized. 

Out of 102 students that participated in a survey, 63.7% reported that by celebrating certain cultural and religious holidays they are swamped at school. Some students said that they are unable to take part in their customs because of school work. 

A student said “Diwali is a big festival for Hindus, it’s basically the equivalent of Christmas for Christians.” 

Another student said “Sometimes, having the pressure of homework on those holidays hinders celebrations and activities.”

An additional student said “During Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur I have to go to temple for three to four hours a day so I have no choice but to miss school.” 

The data collected showed 41.2% celebrated Eid and Ramadan, 29.4% celebrated Diwali and/or Holi. 8.8% and 7.8% celebrated Yom Kippur and Kwanzaa. 6.9% celebrated Rosh Hashanah.  

Despite this, our school doesn’t provide many accommodations for students who are impacted by the dates of their holidays. To create equity among students, District 86 needs to make changes to their calendar. 

This year on the calendar we have April 7 as an early release as it is Good Friday. Why is Good Friday a half day and not Eid? If our school is giving adjustments for certain holidays, then the holidays that many students celebrate should be non attendance or early release as well. 

A similar high school in California said, “the federal government cannot pick and choose which holidays from which religions to instate as public holidays. In order to be completely unbiased and respectful towards the religious diversity within the U.S., the government must have no public holidays with religious affiliations.”

Critics of this proposition might argue that our school would have too many days to make up in the summer as a result of this. But seeing that our calendar has always been built around Christian holidays, they’re capable of accommodating other holidays.  If the district recognizes that it causes students stress to do makeup work for their classes, and participate in their holidays, the board should take action and adjust the calendar accordingly. Not only to relieve any stress students may have, but to embrace the diversity in our district.