Should Wayne Hills Have Christmas Decorations?


A holiday decoration display outside the Wayne Hills library, reading “Happy Holidays!” and depicting snowmen and snowflakes.

By Sasha Budesa, Staff Writer

The Christmas season is in full swing, with a tree in the grand hotel and toys in every store. However, one place is notably lacking in holiday spirit: Wayne Hills High School. Students have noticed the absence of Christmas joy in Hills halls, leading some to question: should the school hang up Christmas decorations?

In New Jersey, the policy for holiday decorations in schools is mostly left to individual school boards, who usually decide what decorations are appropriate based on the student body’s demographics.

Religious displays, of which Christmas decorations are often considered a part, may create controversy and constitutional issues over the freedom of religion in public schools. Schools may be accused of favoring one religion over the other or trying to promote Christianity.

The Patriot Press asked several students of various religious backgrounds what their opinions were on Christmas decorations in their school.

Sierra Stuart, a senior at Wayne Hills who observes Christmas, said, “I just think it’s so weird how people think it’s okay to [represent Christianity] everywhere but when it comes to another religion…it’s weird to them…the school should only put up snowflakes or something.”

Currently, Wayne Hills has a small display with secular “holiday” decorations, including snowmen and snowflakes. Many students agree that this is as far as it should go.

Some people say that putting up Christmas-specific decorations in Wayne Hills would amount to forcing students of other religions to observe a holiday that is not their own.

Fatemah Shirzard, a student who doesn’t observe Christmas and a senior at Wayne Hills, says, “They should not [hang up Christmas decorations]. It’s rude to people who don’t celebrate.” She expanded, “They (Wayne Schools) don’t even give people who celebrate Eid off. But we have to celebrate Christmas?”

In Wayne New Jersey, only 60% of the population is actually religious. Of those, 6% consider themselves Muslims, significantly higher than the nationwide average of 1.1%. In addition, 2% of Wayne’s population is Jewish, slightly higher than the national 1.9%.  Although these seem like small numbers, this amounts to thousands of people and hundreds of students at Wayne Hills.

Chayse Buckley, a Satanist student and senior, says, “You can be festive in the sense of welcoming winter by hanging snowmen and snowflakes and other things but representing any holiday has to be done in a way that doesn’t revolve around religion.”

Not all students agree with this, though. Some suggest more creative solutions to celebrate Christmas in schools without stepping on the toes of the constitution.

Alexandra Annicaro, a student who celebrates Christmas, says, “I think it would be bad if it was just Christmas decorations. They should hang decorations for all religions.”

It seems for now, Wayne Hills will be sticking to snowmen and snowflakes over candy canes and Christmas trees.