Public vs. Private: Christmas Edition

Kate Lawless

The first amendment decrees that “”Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof” and  is the reason we have a separation of church and state in schools.

For students who attend public school, there is no organized prayer or religious ceremonies, even during the holidays. Some students who came from public middle schools to our catholic private high school were surprised by the celebrations TG has during Advent.

Sandy Strangis, who went to Anoka Middle School for the Arts, said, “At my middle school the Christmas season was not really a big deal. Sure everyone was a bit more festive, but during the month of December students and teachers would just countdown the days to winter break. Teachers really could not celebrate the holidays too much in the classroom because it was a public school. Everyone had different beliefs and ways they spend their holiday season.” But once these public school kids switched to private school, their experience changed.

At TGHS, seniors decorate their lockers, hang up stockings in the commons, and decorate the bathrooms. There are Christmas trees adorned with lights and ornaments everywhere and an important mass which many alumni and family members attend. Teachers and students discuss the religious meaning of Advent and say ‘Merry Christmas’ rather than ‘Happy Holidays!’. “It’s a lot more Christian-related activities. Like, we have mass and prayer and we actually acknowledge Christmas. So even, basic random busy work, like arts and crafts or the senior hanging up stockings remind us that it is a Christian Holiday, not just another break.” said senior, Joe Dols, from Robbinsdale Middle School.

Many students agree that celebrating the Christmas season at a Catholic school makes the season more meaningful and enjoyable because of the overall happy mood and the freedom to acknowledge the faith aspect of the winter holiday. Senior, Sam Campion, said, “Everyone gets all thankful and welcoming, so that’s nice”, while Sandy said, “It reminds me that Christmas is an extremely religious holiday. I honestly did not emphasize the religious aspect of Christmas until I came to a Catholic school.” Being able to celebrate faith openly and be part of a joyous community makes winter break and the days leading up to it one of the best times of the school year.