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St. Paul school kisses Valentine’s Day and other holidays goodbye

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ST. PAUL, Minn. — Students at a Minnesota elementary school won't be exchanging valentines, or celebrating Thanksgiving, Christmas or Halloween.

Bruce Vento Elementary in St. Paul is joining other public schools opting out of holiday celebrations, striving to be more culturally sensitive and inclusive.

Principal Scott Masini drew criticism and support after sending a letter to parents last week saying he came to the difficult decision to stop the celebrations "until we can come to a better understanding of how the dominant view will suppress someone else's view."

The Star Tribune reports an announcement leaked on social media before a letter was sent out to parents. Masini said in his announcement that they would stop celebrating holidays to avoid "encroaching on the educational opportunities of others and threatening a culture of tolerance and respect for all."

The school's student body is predominantly Asian and black. English is a second language for more than half of its students, who come from various faith backgrounds.

A district spokeswoman said Wednesday she wasn't aware of new developments and that Masini wasn't available for an interview.

A St. Paul School Board policy on holiday observances says "schools shall discourage programs and festivities arranged to celebrate holidays and other special days, and shall strive to eliminate them."

The schools will make exception for observances required by law such as Veterans Day and the birthdays of Martin Luther King Jr., George Washington and Abraham Lincoln. On those days, schools will designate "at least one hour" to a patriotic observance of the day.

The Star Tribune reports elementary schools in the area are divided about celebrating holidays. Several schools are opting to have seasonal parties instead of holiday celebrations to ensure inclusiveness.