Christmas Debate On Again As Another School Goes PC

John Masanauskas, Herald Sun (Melbourne), December 9, 2008

A PRIMARY school has dumped its traditional Christmas carols concert in favour of a musical event for multicultural families.

Pinewood Primary School, in Mt Waverley, has been accused of acting like the Grinch who stole Christmas, despite Premier John Brumby’s warning that schools should not play down the Christmas spirit for the sake of political correctness.

Angry parents and Liberal MPs slammed the decision.

Parents Victoria executive officer Gail McHardy said it appeared the school community was not consulted about the change.

“I’d like to think that tradition is not thrown out the window like this. It’s bah, humbug,” she said.

Liberal education spokesman Martin Dixon said the majority of Australians, whether from Anglo-Saxon or ethnic backgrounds, celebrated the Christmas tradition. “And it’s obviously been part of that school’s tradition, and there’s no need to change that,” he said.

Principal Maurice Baker said it was decided to replace Thursday’s carols event with an entertainer. “We thought we’d like to present this sort of thing to our parents, and we thought the only way we could do it was in place of our carols night this year,” he said.

“And we thought that was probably not a bad idea either because it gave people from other cultures the chance to celebrate with us.”

Asked if non-Christian students and parents usually attended the carols night, Mr Baker said: “They can, but they choose not to because it’s not their religion.”

Last month, Mr Brumby urged schools and kindergartens to let children enjoy Christmas no matter what their religion.

“Christmas holds a significant place in Australian society and it is important schoolchildren .&nbps;. . gain an understanding of its historical and cultural importance to our country,” he said.

Mr Baker said Pinewood still celebrated Christmas in different ways and the carols might be back next year.

“It’s not as if the Grinch has come here and stolen Christmas,” he said.

At Canterbury Primary School, students and teachers are getting into the yuletide spirit in a big way.

Principal Anne Tonkin said students had taken part in various community Christmas functions, including carol singing and helping out with a Christmas stall.

“It provides an opportunity for students to showcase their talents,” she said.

Canterbury parent Vicki Vrazas said her children looked forward to Christmas events. “They love it, it’s part of tradition and respecting Christmas values,” she said.

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