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O'Green Day report nothing but blarney, says HWRSD

Date: 3/16/2012

March 16, 2012

By Chris Maza

WILBRAHAM — Hampden-Wilbraham Regional School District (HWRSD) Superintendent M. Martin O'Shea and School Committee Chair Scott Chapman refuted a media report stating that Soul Road Elementary School would be changing the names of St. Patrick's Day in their celebrations.

Television news station abc40 reported on March 14 that Principal Lisa Curtin would be changing the name of St. Patrick's Day to O'Green Day. The story was picked up by national news organizations and blog sites, such as the Huffington Post and FoxNews.

Conservative political commentator Glenn Beck's website was among a host of unaffiliated blogs and websites to also report the story in some fashion, while talk radio stations from Boston to Cleveland cited the Springfield news station's report.

However, in a letter to Soule Road School parents on March 15, O'Shea clarified the purpose of O'Green Day and reassured the school community that St. Patrick's Day would be observed and that he and Curtin did not respond to abc40's requests for comment on its report "so as not to legitimize or give any credibility to it."

"Soule Road has not changed the name of St. Patrick's Day. It is noted as St. Patrick's Day on the Soule Road school calendar and will be in future years. O'Green Day, on Friday, March 16, the day before St. Patrick's Day, was set up as a day to encourage students to celebrate the holiday by wearing green," the letter read.

Green is also the signature color of Soule Road School and HWRSD.

O'Shea went on to say the Soule Road Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) assisted the district in organizing events for the month and the approach has not changed from previous years.

"A green theme in March has been used by your PTO to incorporate a number of fun, educational activities planned for the children of Soule Road during the month and is aimed at recognizing Soule's school color, the coming of spring, healthy lunch choices and St. Patrick's Day," he said.

In addition to the school calendar including St. Patrick's Day, the school's lunch menu features a St. Patrick's Day theme, in addition to a recipe for a "Shamrock Milk Mixer," and "Family Fun Tips for St. Patrick's Day."

In a separate statement, Chapman emphasized the district's recognition of St. Patrick's Day's importance in history and added that there has not been, nor will there be in the future, an effort to downplay holidays traditionally celebrated in America.

"We have and will continue to celebrate the holiday by name and in a way that accentuates and supplements the district curriculum," he said. "All of our nation's traditional holidays are recognized and will continue to be recognized by our district and incorporated in learning activities where appropriate as part of our educational mission."

abc40's initial report has since been taken down from its website.

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