West Students React to New Religiously Neutral Calendar

By Sidney Hines, Sports Social Editor

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Last year, the D219 school board decided to implement a new religious neutral calendar. While this increases the number of school days, many students end up missing school to celebrate religious holidays that were previously given as days off.

Junior Sam Plusker believes that the school board’s decision to refer to a religious neutral calendar is inconvenient to many religious students and families.

“I was pretty surprised about the calendar change,” Plusker said. “I understand that it is hard to include all of the religions at Niles West but I think the calendar was better the last few years. It was nice to get a few more days off throughout the school year to relax and reduce stress. The change is also inconvenient to students whose parents will still be taking them out of school to celebrate their holidays. This disadvantages those students by placing them behind in their classes and expecting them to make up the work they missed while celebrating religious holidays.”

Junior Lily Gussis admits that she agrees with the D219 board’s decision to utilize a religious neutral calendar because she believes it better encompasses the religious and ethnic diversity at Niles West.

“Initially I was a little frustrated because I would have to miss school on certain days,” Gussis said. “But after my initial reaction, I realized that it’s a great idea to be more inclusive, especially because of how diverse we are at Niles West. I think it’s better to keep the new calendar so we can be more inclusive to those of all different kinds of faiths. With the previous calendar, many religions didn’t get days off while others did. Even those students will have to miss school for religious purposes, it’s more inclusive and teachers are very understanding of missing class due to a religious commitment.”

While others support and some disagree with the choice to use a religious neutral calendar, some believe there are more cons than pros to both using this calendar.

“I didn’t really like the fact that they changed the calendar because I don’t really think of it as a religious neutral calendar,” junior Kivaun Jahad said. “It doesn’t really make sense to me that we have days off for things such as Columbus Day [now regarded as Indigenous People’s Day] when holidays like Eid- which is one of the biggest Muslim holidays- we don’t have off. It especially doesn’t make sense because the population of Muslim students at our school is pretty high, so a lot of kids had to miss school for their religious commitment because this calendar doesn’t give them the day off.”