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Winchester Public Schools Calendar

“This has been our dream,” Williamsville Schools add diverse holidays to school calendar

WILLIAMSVILLE, N.Y. (WKBW) — In the 2024-2025 school year, students in 13 schools in WNY won’t be in the classroom on four extra days.

Winchester Schools - - School Calendar
Winchester Schools – – School Calendar

“A time where we shouldn’t be worried about studies and school,” explained Leyla Gokcek, a student at Transit Middle.

Taylor Epps

Judith Evans on X: "Winchester Public Schools: Calendar for
Judith Evans on X: “Winchester Public Schools: Calendar for

Gokcek siblings in their living room

Diwali, the Asian Lunar New Year (now a must for every district), Eid-al-Fitr and Eid-al-Adha are new holidays on the Williamsville Central Schools Calendar.

This comes after a push from parents and years of discussion from the school’s board and DEI committee.

“So we want all our students to feel seen, we want all of our students to know that we’re creating an intentionally inviting school,” said Dr. Darren Brown-Hall, Superintendent.

Why add these holidays?Williamsville is becoming more diverse. Leyla’s mom Hulya sees it daily as an ENL teacher in the district.

“Having our holidays in the calendar is saying that we do value you, we do like appreciate you and you are like visible now,” said Hulya.

Williamsville Central School District

Data from Williamsville Central School District on country origin for students

Dr. Brown-Hall says the school board looked at the rates of absenteeism on those holidays and saw significant percentages.

How do you add these holidays into the calendar?School calendars are somewhat of a puzzle that districts out together with the following pieces:

Teacher’s Union contractsEmployee bargaining unitsSnow daysDemographics

So they start with BOCES. The four BOCES put out one instructional calendar they they agree on that supports coordinated regional services, including but not limited to BOCES special education and career and technical education programs.Districts take a look at that calendar and try to fit their own pieces in from there.

“Then every district has to look at their own demographics. Do you have a large Indian population, Bangladeshi population, Jewish population and then you have to figure out which of the cultural traditions are really prevalent in your community,” said Michael Cornell, President of the Erie-Niagara School Superintendents Association.

Will other districts be adding diverse holidays?

It’s not that simple. For example, Buffalo Schools follows the BOCES template as well.

“And will work to include as many culturally diverse holidays as possible, including the Lunar New Year next school year,” said a BPS spokesperson.

But with all that goes into adding the holidays and varying demographics, it may not work in every district.

“People should not infer that because Williamsville did what it did for its calendar, that that’s gonna start to spread across other school districts because every school district has it’s own superintendent, it’s own board, it’s own collective bargaining agreements and it’s own needs,” said Cornell.

So this is something that will vary district by district, but the Gokcek family hopes their message does spread to districts all around WNY.

“That you don’t have to take away from children’s education to allow them to celebrate their holidays,” said Mustafa Gokcek.