Published February 07, 2014
Cupid is welcome but candy is not.
That’s the new rule this year at Harwinton Consolidated School in Connecticut, where parents received an email from the principal directing them to make sure candy was not attached to any Valentine’s Day cards.
“We are asking for parents/guardians to be sure that food products of any kind are not a part of your child’s Valentine’s cards,” Principal Megan Mazzei wrote to moms and dads. “We are working to encourage healthy practices as well as manage food choices in classrooms where food allergies are present in order to maintain a safe environment.”
That means no chocolate candies in heart-shaped boxes. The school won’t even allow kids to share those pastel-colored candy hearts with clever sayings like “You Rock” and “True Love.”
One teacher even sent a separate letter to parents reinforcing the ban.
“Our new school policy asks that students do not bring in candy or attach candy to their valentines,” the teacher wrote. She even bold-faced “do not” lest there be any confusion.
Stacey Sefcik has two children who attend the school, a fourth-grader and a second-grader. She said this is the first year there’s been an all-out candy ban.
“Last year the kids came home with tons of Valentine’s cards with pieces of candy attached,” she told me in a telephone interview. “It was never an issue.”
Her son’s fourth-grade teacher reiterated the candy ban in a letter to parents and even went so far as to cancel the annual Valentine’s Day party.
“With respect to this new policy, I am going to ask that no food be sent to school on Valentine’s Day,” the teacher wrote. “No snacks will be needed, and treat bags cannot be sent home in backpacks.”
The teacher said boys and girls could exchange cards, but advised they “will not be having a party.”
“I ask that you please respect this policy and do not send in any food items attached to the Valentine’s cards,” the teacher stressed.
Sefcik said her daughter’s second-grade teacher was a bit more lenient. They won’t be able to eat sugary treats, but kids will be allowed to eat “healthy snacks” like popcorn and fruit.
I’m sure it’ll be one heck of a party – dancing the hokey pokey while gnawing on a fresh celery stalk. I hope nobody spikes the carrot juice.
Sefcik called the candy ban “the straw that broke the camel’s back.”
“I’m totally fine with teaching nutrition and encouraging healthy choices,” she said. “I applaud their intent, but the execution has a lot to be desired. It’s just candy for one day.”
She said she’s read similar stories about school districts imposing draconian rules to enforce wellness policies, but she never thought it would happen in her town.
“I thought in our little corner of the world, things were rational and sensible,” she told me. “I had always thought that my district had its head solidly on its shoulders.”
Well, based on the letters and emails the school sent home to parents, I’d say the school has its head up another part of the human anatomy.
So what can boys and girls at Harwinton Consolidated School expect on Valentine’s Day?
Well, one teacher announced that instead of a party, they’re going to have “academic Valentine activities.”
OK, kids. Spell “lame.”
The teacher also encouraged children to express their affection for one another by giving something special.
“I suggest pencils, stickers, temporary tattoos, homemade cards or other crafts,” she wrote in a letter to parents.
Remember back when you were in fourth grade – how the girls used to swoon when you presented them with a Number Two pencil?
Sefcik fired off a letter to Principal Mazzei expressing her extreme displeasure in the new rules.
“It seems we are going the way of so many other schools who lose sight of the meaning of holidays in their efforts to appease a very small minority,” she wrote.
The school nurse sent home an additional letter to parents explaining that several students have allergies to “tree nuts, peanuts, chocolate, milk, certain dyes, etc.”
But my favorite part of the letter came when she offered helpful suggestions to budding young Casanovas trying to woo their significant others.
In lieu of candy, she recommended art supplies.
“Stickers, using art materials such as felt, colored paper, etc. attached to the envelopes to personalize them is a great idea,” the nurse wrote.
Nothing says “Be My Valentine” like a piece of construction paper and non-woven textile.