FAIRFIELD — Eighth-grade students at Green Valley Middle School put U.S. history classes into practice with a request to Fairfield-Suisun School District trustees for a holiday after Halloween, the students’ teacher says.
Monica Brown, teaching about rights won during the Revolutionary War – including petitioning the government – provided trustees with the holiday request written by student Samantha Burzynski, who gathered 206 signatures in support.
“Remember when you were a kid, excited to get enough candy for the whole year?” Burzynski wrote. Some students are sleepy from trick-or-treating the night before, she said. Some are on a sugar high. She also noted that candy wrappers are prominent when school follows Halloween. We shouldn’t have classes that day, the student wrote.
“Teachers need a break, too,” Burzynski added.
Brown presented the petition Oct. 10 during public comment at the school board’s meeting. Trustees can’t act on matters raised during that part of the meeting and often don’t comment, either. The Halloween holiday plea brought neither action or comment – but Brown said the effort provided a nice lesson in civics.
“The best lesson for democracy would be if the board heard what they said and gave them the day off,” the teacher said.
Americans taking on the British in the 18th century didn’t face fixed school calendars. But eighth-grade students hoping for a post-Halloween holiday do – a fact that may make success with their request to board trustees a longshot.
Trustee David Isom said Wednesday that he doesn’t think having the holiday is necessarily a good idea. But he praised the study undertaken by the youths.
“It’s wonderful to know the students are learning – especially that part of history – the way our democracy runs,” Isom said.
Burzynski said if no Halloween holiday happens, “It’ll be OK.”
Her goal was to get 100 signatures on the petition asking for a holiday. She was able to get that many in a day and continued to gather signatures a second day.
Student Diego Barron, 13, who signed the petition, would like approval for the request that schools close the day after Halloween.
“We worked hard for this,” he said.
Students Samone Lawson and Iliana Hearring share the sentiment. Hearring said teacher Brown makes American history come alive. “I like how she teaches,” the student said.
Brown showed 11th-grade students in summer school the movie “War Horse” as part of learning about World War I. The film was well-received, she said, but the adage that movies are “history written with lightning” requires respecting the age of the Internet. When students can instantly see YouTube videos and access endless information on the Web, Brown said, movies may not matter as much as they used to.
“They have so many ways of getting information,” she said of today’s students.
Her eighth-grade U.S. history class made posters protesting British laws that angered colonists. “Against the Tea Act –Before our Business is Hijacked,” one sign read. In late September youths gathered with their signs at the school amphitheater to chant, “Hey, hey, ho, ho, King George has got to go.”
Student Barron believes in the benefits of studying American history.
“I just like seeing what happened in the past,” he said, “and how this country came to be.”
Burzynski, who prepared the petition, is also happy to have U.S. history.
“I like learning about the past,” she said, “and how to make the future better.”
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