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December 23, 1988 - Image 14

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1988-12-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

F RON TLI N ES

I'.



TORCH Advocates
Christmas in Schools

CARLA JEAN SCHWARTZ and
STEVEN M. HARTZ

Staff Writers

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14 FRIDAY, DECEMBER 23, 1988

ORCH — the Taxpay-
ers Organization to
Restore Cultural
Heritage — and the issue of
putting Christmas back into
the schools is a hot issue.
A TORCH resolution ad-
vocating the celebration of
Christmas in the schools drew
about 200 people to a Bloom-
field Hills School Board
meeting on Tuesday at An-
dover High School. About 40
TORCH members were
present.
"Our first goal is to put
Christmas back into the
schools in a legal and proper
manner that relates to the
tradition of this country,"
TORCH position papers state.
"Through the educational
process, our children can
learn
others and be
enriched by the experience."
Founders of the movement
offered informational
materials to concerned
residents, students, parents
and teachers, who packed in-
to the media center to share
their views with the School
Board.
"It is a privilege to live in
a society that is not a bottle
of homogenized milk," said
Richard Poole, a member of
the community for 25 years
and a member of the
Episcopal Church. Although
he celebrates Christmas, he
stressed that the holiday
celebrates the birth of Jesus
Christ and is a religious ex-
perience to be enjoyed at
home or in church. He asked
the board to hold the line and
retain the current policy.
The school board policy,
adopted in 1983, states in
part that "religious instruc-
tion, religious ceremony and
religious indoctrination have
no place in public education."
The policy was adopted
after parents complained
about the use of the name
Jesus Christ during An-
dover's commencement.
Many members supported
the board's current policy.
Jain Lauter, a resident of
West Bloomfield and past
president of PTO at Lone Pine
Elementary, asked to con-
tinue the "wonderful level of
sharing," and that one holi-
day need not be emphasized.
Attorney Richard Roth of
Bloomfield Township also
urged the board to respect all
views.
Former Gov. George
Romney, a Bloomfield Hills

9 RM.

resident, told the audience
that historical documents
like the Declaration of In-
dependence have religious
foundations.
Romney said he is glad his
children learned about
Christmas and Chanukah in
the schools.
Toby Jones, a spokesman for
TORCH, said celebrating the
"great national holiday of
Christmas is just like the
President does with his tree
in front of the White House.
"How can our board be so,
insensitive to our national
holiday?" she asked. Jones.
said she and TORCH
members would continue
fighting until the issue is
resolved.
Paul D. Borman, president
of the Jewish Community
Council, said those in favor of
retaining the 1983 policy
would also fight their case.
"Even the Christian clergy
who were at the meeting sup-
ported the present policy,
believing that religion should
be taught in the home and at
church," Borman said.
Some students spoke, in-
cluding M. Bryan Schneider,
who thought "the Fourth of
July was a national holiday,"
and the adoption of the
TORCH resolution could be
cancerous. Adam Rosenberg
believed that "TORCH wants
to torch the constitution,"
while Student Newspaper
Editor Andrew Shepard urg-
ed the board to look to the
constitution; respect the
students and not be pressured
by the parents.
After listening to two hours
of the audience, Supt. W.
Robert Docking decided to
assess the practices, listen to
concerns expressed by the
staff and receive suggestions
about how to improve what is
done at the building level
with regard to holiday
celebrations. He will visit the
buildings after the first of the
year and write a summary
and reccomendations to the
board.
"I applaud the people here
with decorum," said Docking.
He mentioned the agressive
behavior two weeks ago at the
board meeting.
Suzanne von Ende, presi-
dent of the School Board, sup-
ported the present policy but
was concerned about the
interpretation.
"I found it shocking to see
what happened at the last
board meeting," von Ende
said. "I hope our community
will work together and that
we don't have devisiveness
here?'

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