Fourth-grade class at Calvary Christian School petitions for day off after Halloween

By Ty Beaver, Tri-City HeraldOctober 29, 2012 

— Cavan Bower said he thought it would be a good idea to not come to school the day after Halloween.

After all, he and his schoolmates at Calvary Christian School in Kennewick would be up late on Halloween, attending the school's Harvest Carnival before heading out to trick-or-treat.

So the 10-year-old from Pasco told his fellow fourth-grade classmates of his idea to ask for the day off. And it snowballed -- or maybe popcorn-balled -- from there.

"They just grabbed a piece of notebook paper and started writing, and I started writing too," Cavan said.

A persistent petition and letter-writing campaign to Principal Bobi Whinery didn't result in a day off as the students had hoped.

But they didn't come away empty-handed. They'll be the only students at the K-8 school of about 175 students wearing pajamas to school Thursday and starting their day by watching a movie and eating cereal.

Ginny Strickler, the fourth-grade teacher at Calvary Christian, said Cavan first came up with the idea to ask for the day off while she was going around the room Oct. 15 asking what the students were going to pray for during prayer time.

"He said, 'Yeah, I really think we need the day after Halloween off. I think we should really pray to ask for the day off,' " Strickler said, laughing.

Cavan's teacher told him Halloween came in the middle of the week this year, and they were scheduled to be in school the day after, but that didn't deter him. He teamed up with his 16 classmates -- including 10-year-old Alex Wright of Finley -- and drafted a petition and letters to Whinery to convince her.

"Why don't (we) have Halloween on a weekend," one student wrote.

Whinery found the stack of petitions and letters from her students waiting on her desk Oct. 16, and their effort made an impression.

"I thought it was the cutest thing I'd ever seen," Whinery told the Herald.

Whinery and Strickler said it was highly unlikely the students would get the day off. All students in Washington are required to attend school a specific number of days. Giving the students the day off would have required them losing a day off around Christmas or during another planned break. But she sent a letter back to the students.

"Your request is in consideration, but I need a little more information before the Day Off Committee can make a decision!" she replied.

The students were so motivated by Whinery's letter that Strickler abandoned her plan to teach about transition words Oct. 17 and opted to help her students with persuasive letters.

"Here are three reasons," Cavan wrote in the letter. "We will get hyper, (crazy), talk and get in (trouble). We will get (tired too). We will want to sleep at school. We might barf as well (from) the candy and (even) get a sugar coma."

Whinery's reward to the fourth-graders been followed by similar pleas from other students -- including her son, an eighth-grader at Calvary Christian.

"I told him 'I didn't get a letter from you, I don't know what to tell you,'" she said.

Even though the fourth-graders didn't get what they wanted, they came away with a lesson from their campaign, they said.

"We should do it more often," said 10-year-old Mariah Speights of Benton City.

On Tuesday, Whinery found a letter on her desk from the fourth-graders asking for St. Patrick's Day off.

"I said, 'No,' " she said, laughing.

-- Ty Beaver: 582-1402; tbeaver@tricityherald.com

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