David Segal 0

Aspen School District Calendar: Respect for Holy Days

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January 2012 Dear Aspen School Board, Superintendent Maloy, and Principals Heald and Goldyn, We write to you as parents and clergy of many faiths to ask for your support, in partnership with us, regarding our children’s holistic development. Last spring, Aspen Mayor Mick Ireland spoke before the AHS Class of 2011 and their parents gathered at the Aspen Chapel for the Interfaith Baccalaureate Service. He hailed Aspen as a place that values body, mind, and spirit -- and then he acknowledged that, as a community, we could use some work in the area of “spirit.” We want to support our children in making thoughtful religious choices and seeking spiritual development. The School District calendar is a significant and recurring challenge in the way of our efforts. We know you have many variables to juggle when planning Outdoor and Experiential Education trips, exams, field days, homecomings, sporting events, and the myriad other elements of a full and vibrant school year. And we see and greatly appreciate your past efforts to respect religious holidays. But the conflicts continue to arise, year after year, and we believe there must be a better way forward *as a community*. We believe that more respectful consideration of our most important holy days serves our visions for our children as well as *your* mission for this district. Your District Mission begins: “Students will realize their full potential,”[1] and we affirm that spirituality is an integral part of that fullness. In addition, the Life Skills and Citizenship characteristics[2] that you seek to cultivate in our children are shared and bolstered by our religious traditions. Furthermore, your policy on “Student Learning Environment/Treatment of Students” calls for “a climate that is characterized by respect, support, and encouragement.”[3] It is hard to imagine achieving that goal completely when school programs, trips, and tests sometimes send the message to students that the school neither respects, supports, or encourages their personal religious choices. In light of these common goals, we affirm again our commitment to partnering with you to find a better solution to the calendar conflicts between school and holy days. Perhaps the problem stems, in part, from our lack of involvement in the process. To that end, we would like to set up a meeting with you, to include parent and clergy representatives. We’d like to discuss with you the creation of a permanent, rotating Religious Calendar Advisory Committee, made up of parents and clergy who represent the range of faiths residing in the district. This Committee could meet as needed with the School Board, Superintendent, and Principals prior to District Calendar finalization. But this is only one suggestion among many possible paths forward. Please contact Rabbi David Segal (970-920-2536, rabbi@aspenjewish.org) to continue the conversation and set up a time to meet. We look forward to working together for the good of our community’s children. Respectfully, The Undersigned Clergy, Parents, and Students:
(See Signatures tab for complete list)

Rev. Jonathan Brice, Christ Episcopal Church Fr. John Hilton, St. Mary’s Catholic Church Dr. Peter Howard, S.T.D., Director of Adult Faith Formation, St. Mary’s Catholic Church Rev. Jane Keener-Quiat, Aspen Community United Methodist Church Rabbi Mendel Mintz, Chabad Jewish Community Center Aspen Rabbi David Segal, Aspen Jewish Congregation Cantor Rollin Simmons, Aspen Jewish Congregation Rabbi Itzhak & Dalia Vardy, Neshama Center Rev. Dr. Robert de Wetter, Snowmass Chapel Steve Woodrow, Teaching & Directional Pastor, Crossroads Church Dan Bosko, Teaching & Connecting Pastor, Crossroads Church Derek Brown, Worship & Creative Arts Pastor, Crossroads Church Chris Henderson, Next Generation Pastor, Crossroads Church

[1] District Mission
[2] Policy on “Life Skills”; Policy on “Citizenship”
[3] Policy on “Student Learning Environment/Treatment of Students”


Aspen Interfaith Association


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