Centerville Elementary School cancels “A Christmas Carol,” disrupts instructional time

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In response to pushback, as well as support, from one Lancaster community to cancel an annual performance of “A Christmas Carol,” Hempfield School District released a statement explaining their viewpoint.

Addressed in the letter, district leaders said, they were aware of rumors circulating in the community about the fifth grade play at Centerville Elementary School. Principal Tom Kramer wrote in the letter the district was aware that some parents were upset that the play was cancelled, and he added, the district also heard from families on both ends of the spectrum, including those who expressed appreciation that the play, as it had traditionally been prepared and delivered, was cancelled.

Message from Principal: Clarification RE: Cancellation of 5th Grade Play

“We are aware of rumors circulating in the community about the fifth grade play at Centerville Elementary School. Additionally, we understand that some parents are upset that the play was cancelled, but we have heard from families on both ends of the spectrum, including those who expressed appreciation that the play, as it had traditionally been prepared and delivered, was cancelled.

We want to clarify that the decision to cancel the play was a building decision, based upon interactions between myself and the fifth grade teaching team. This decision was made based primarily on instructional opportunities for students. Producing and performing a play is not part of the written curriculum for fifth grade.

Over the years, preparations had evolved to take 15 to 20 hours of instructional (educational) time to produce this play. Given changes in state standards in recent years, we could not defend the commitment of this kind of instructional time to something not part of the fifth grade curriculum. The teachers agreed that they did not want our students to be put at a disadvantage relative to their peers from other schools in preparation for 6th grade; therefore, the play was cancelled. In addition to focusing on high quality instruction, our decision is rooted in the desire to be respectful of the many cultural and religious backgrounds represented by the students attending Centerville Elementary.

One rumor we’ve been addressing is that one or two families influenced this decision. That’s just not true. The instructional time issue was our primary concern. Alternative solutions were explored for offering the play differently, including the use of non-core instructional time, but it was decided by the building team to not go down this path. We also looked at having rehearsals after school hours, but, at this time, parents nor staff members have stepped forward to take advantage of this possibility.

This information was shared in a letter home to fifth grade parents and at a recent PTO meeting. Parents are encouraged to share their questions or concerns directly with me.”

Thank you –

Tom Kramer
CES Principal

Source: Centerville Elementary School