The Barre Unified Union School District is breaking with tradition and keeping students in school on Veterans Day. The superintendent says it’s a way to keep the school community engaged with the events of the day, but some parents are upset with the way the change was announced.
The district sent an email to parents, notifying them that school would be held on Thursday, November 11. While it described the benefits for keeping kids, it read “A Thursday Holiday from school is a rare occurrence and honestly pretty disruptive.”
Historically, students and teachers of the Barre Unified Union School District have had the day off on Veterans Day. But this year, school will be in session and an extra day will be added to Thanksgiving break.
“After years of being able to participate in Veterans Day activities in the community, which are our high school and middle school bands,” said Superintendent Chris Hennessey. “We became concerned a few weeks ago that it was going to be limited how we were going to be able to participate in those programs with kids out of school, teachers out of school, not having access to bus services on a holiday.”
It was the word “disruptive” that upset BUUSD parent Amanda Meredith, a mother whose ex-husband fought in Iraq.
“It it hit me so hard because the word “disruptive” felt incredibly disrespectful and lacking any type of understanding as to what veterans and their families have been through,” said Meredith.
So she wrote a letter back to the district to express her concerns.
“Veterans and their families go through an incredible amount of disruption, continually, all day everyday, with zero notice. I am incredibly passionate about this because I’ve lived it,” said Meredith. Twenty-four-notice for deployment. Getting the phone call from your spouse while they’re deployed, having that phone line go dead and then not hearing from them for days, not knowing if they’re okay or not.”
Hennessey says he formally apologized nor did he mean to disrespect the holiday or Barre School families.
“The idea behind the disruption is that is it very unusual to have a holiday during the school on a Thursday and then follow-up with school on Friday. There’s nothing about Veterans Days or any of these days where we honor the community at large that are disruptions,” said Hennessey.
On Veterans Day Barre schools participate in a parade, band performances, and ceremonies Downtown. He says having students in school this year will give them greater access to these event and an opportunity to appreciate their sacrifice and service.