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12/1/2008 - December 2008 SLI Educational Update - In the Public Schools - Where Christmas is Not Christmas



To: SLI Supporters

Date: December 2008

From: A. Eric Johnston

Re: In the Public Schools – Where Christmas is Not Christmas

Each Christmastime we get telephone calls about public school students who are not allowed to sing Christmas carols, distribute religious Christmas cards, or celebrate the Christian meaning of the season. For the most part, those issues are favorably resolved and have decreased in recent years.

This is not to mean that there are still not problems. We encourage you to contact us if you are having problems, or refer persons to us whom you know are having problems with religious liberties in public schools. We are glad to receive your telephone calls and provide advice as necessary, including writing letters and discussing issues with school officials. There are no charges for these services.

One of the things we have discussed in recent years is the policies of merchants to avoid using the word “Christmas” or even wishing “Happy Holidays.” There have been many phone calls and letters to merchants about ignoring the most important aspect of the Christmas season. Many of the merchants have begun using the words with religious connotations and it will be interesting to see again this year how they present themselves.

Because of our interest in Christmas activities in public schools, we decided to do a survey of some of the major school districts in the state to see if they were also turning away from the real reason for the season. Below is a list of the schools. You will observe that out of the 26 named, 11, or only 42%, acknowledge that it is Christmas.

School District


Email Address

Name from Calendar

Bessemer City Schools

Dr. Deborah T. Horn


Winter Break

Birmingham City Schools

Barbara S. Allen, Interim Supt.


Christmas Holidays

Blount County Schools

Mr. James E. Carr


Christmas Holidays

Dothan City Schools

Dr. Sam Nichols


Christmas Holidays

Etowah County Schools

Michael A. Bailey


Christmas Holidays

Florence City School System

Kendy Behrends


Winter Break

Gadsden City Schools

Dr. Ed Miller


Christmas Holidays

Homewood City Schools

Dr. Bill Cleveland


Mid-Winter Holidays

Hoover City Schools

Mr. Andy Craig


Winter Holidays/Winter Break

Houston County Schools

Tim Pitchford


Christmas Vacation

Huntsville City School

Dr. Ann Roy Moore


Winter Break

Jefferson County School System

Dr. Phil Hammonds


Mid-Year Holidays

Lauderdale County Schools

William L. Valentine


Christmas Holidays

Lee County Schools

Stephen Nowlin, Ed.D.


Student Holidays

Leeds City Schools

Dr. Billy J. Pack


Christmas Break

Madison County Schools

Dr. Terry Davis


Winter Intersession/Holidays

Mobile County Public Schools

Dr. Roy D. Nichols


Winter Break- Holidays

Montgomery Public Schools

John Dilworth


Winter Holidays

Mountain Brook Schools

Dr. Charles Mason


Winter Holidays

Opelika City Schools

Mark D. Neighbors


Christmas & New Year

Shelby County Schools

Randy Fuller


Christmas Holidays

Tarrant City Schools

Dr. Martha Rizzuto


End of 1st Semester

Trussville City Schools

Dr. Suzanne Freeman


Schools Closed

Tuscaloosa City Schools

Joyce Levey, Ed.D.


Winter Break

Tuscaloosa County School System

Frank Costanzo


Winter Holidays

Vestavia Hills City Schools

Dr. Jamie Blair


Christmas Holidays

We have included the names of school superintendents and their email addresses. If your school system is not on the list, check its website. We suggest you contact your superintendent. If his or her system is celebrating Christmas, thank him or her. If it is not, you may wish to inquire about whether he or she will be worshipping, exchanging gifts, having a Christmas tree, and doing other things of a “Christmas” nature, or will he or she simply be having a break. We find it disgusting that public schools cannot even acknowledge one of the most anticipated holidays of the year. Not a one of us forgets the wonder and beauty of the Christmas season and all that it means to us. As children, we looked forward to the lights, the celebration, the gifts, and all that went along with it. As we grow older, we look forward to the hope and the fulfillment which the Christmas season brings.

Maybe, if these superintendents get enough phone calls, they will consider changing back to the Christmas Holidays. It makes you wonder whether they may not be telling the children that it is even Christmas at all. The superintendents, and to whatever authority they answer, give a new meaning to “Scrooge” or “The Grinch Who Stole Christmas.”

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