INFORUM.com | WDAZ.com

WDAY: The News Leader

Published December 12, 2013, 06:49 PM

Debate over Christmas decorations in schools

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Passionate people on both sides paint the issue as black and white. But do your neighbors think the same?

By: Drew Trafton, WDAY

Fargo, ND (WDAY TV) - Passionate people on both sides paint the issue as black and white.

But do your neighbors think the same?

The issue of Christmas decorations in schools has a way pitting people at war with themselves.

"It's highly controversial."

"I don't know, I have a couple thoughts going."

On the one hand... the loss of decorations raises questions of cultural and personal identity:

Darcy Putnam/Licensed Teacher: “Do you drop all the holidays completely?"

Dennis Hoekstra/Window Shopper: "Kids should do it so they find out what the true meaning of Christmas is."

And on the other hand, the possibility of socially ostracized students due to different beliefs.

Olivia Bain/MSUM Student: "Just leave it like wreaths or really basic things? I don't know."

In Fargo, the public schools operate under a single policy regarding beliefs catering to students exercising and opposed to religious principles.

Symbols can be used as teaching aid as an example of religious heritage and the educational purpose of the religious object is clearly identified.

However, schools must honor written requests from parents that children be excused from any activity they deem objectionable on religious grounds.

It's a stark contrast from a private school like Park Christian... where we shot this footage.

According to school president Kent Hannestad, decoration for Christmas creates the atmosphere the school aims to embody the entire year.

Kent Hannestad/President, Park Christian School: "It's hard for us to think of it as a unique atmosphere because it's just who we are. It's part of our DNA."

Hannestad and Dr. Michael Smith the Catholic Schools superintendent told me they believe being able to exercise religious belief is a huge advantage to their learning environments.

However, they also said that public schools are more likely to be open to students of diverse beliefs because of the mission to teach Christian principles in their schools.

Tags: