50 Stories for 50 Years: Carolers can now sing


Students pose in front of Christmas tree at Kennedy in 1980.

Olivia Bowden, Writer

50 Stories for 50 Years is a yearlong series, written by Hannah Ratzer and Mady Kircher. Throughout the 2017-2018 school year we will be republishing stories from all 50 years of past publications. We hope to show off Kennedy’s rich history and success through this series. This 50 for 50 story is curated by guest writer Olivia Bowden.

Christmas is right around the corner and to get ready for the holidays Kennedy takes part in many activities to get students pumped for the holidays.

On Thursday, Dec. 21 students are encouraged to wear their Christmas sweaters and join their classmates in the foyer for hot chocolate and apple cider. There is also a winter assembly where the band and choirs will perform and sing carols.

In past years teachers have walked around school singing Christmas Carols to classes, who would have known a couple of years before 1980 people almost lost the right to sing them in school.

The following is pulled from Volume XIV, Number 4 of the Kennedy High School Torch, published on December 19, 1980.

Carolers can now sing

Christmas can be celebrated with ease this year as the Supreme Court on November 10 “refused to disturb” how Christmas was celebrated in schools.

The ruling, originally stated in 1978, that “music, art, literature and drama having religious themes are permitted as part of the curriculum for school-sponsored activities and programs.”

The South Dakota ruling put to ease nearly 20,000 Cedar Rapidians who anxiously petitioned for Christmas carols last December. After eight months of controversy, meetings and petitions, Christmas carols are “if properly administered and narrowly interpreted… constitutional,” a federal judge said.

Many argued that Christmas is not a holiday that everyone celebrates, and neutrality should be exercised to protect their religious rights. Others believed it was their religious and constitutional right to celebrate their holiday.

The Christmas carol controversy has hit home at Kennedy over the last couple of years when the choirs were faced with the idea of no Christmas carols.

The fact that the pressure was on last year to singing Christmas carols stopped some, but not Kennedy. The traditional decorations were set up and the Christmas concert, with Christmas carols was held.

Other schools were not as fortunate. Jefferson was not allowed decorations and many schools banned or cut back on carols, even without an official ruling.

The term “Christmas Break,” referring to the days in December that students vacation, is now called “Winter Break.”

In April the school board began compiling guidelines and worked for three months. The report was presented in late June and unanimously approved on August 11. It says that students are free to express their belief or non-belief in religion through the composition of art, music, speech, or debate.

“Well Merry Christmas,“ said Carol Leamon, senior.

By Betsi Laymon