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Most Americans are proud to live in the land of the free. That’s why we’ve never taken kindly to being told we have to do one thing or we can’t do another.
That’s why a new rule banning cupcakes and other sweets at Gorham elementary school parties has left what a newspaper article says is a sour taste with at least some parents speaking out against the ban this week.
This being the home of the brave and other civic virtues, 0thers praised the mandate, and any effort to teach students healthier eating habits – whatever that might include.
The ban at Gorham’s three elementary schools absolutely prohibits parents from sending cupcakes and other foods to school to share with schoolmates at parties and holiday celebrations. One parent of three children called the ban ridiculous.
Some parents protested the cupcake ban at a School Committee meeting and displayed their sign that read, “Save the Cupcakes.” The protest sign: “Give me cupcakes, or give me death” was thought by some to be a little over the top.
The ban began last fall with cupcakes, and “mushroomed out” to include more favorite treats. Lollipops were not allowed on Valentine’s Day at Great Falls School, said one parent said. Nothing sweet is safe,” she added. “No shared foods in school whatsoever,” she said.
The School Committee did not originate the ban and declined to express their personal feelings about cupcakes. “The School Committee does not have a policy that addresses what foods students can bring to school,” said Kathy Garrard, chairwoman of the board’s Policy Committee. “The cupcake policy is an administrative procedure that the principals chose to implement.” The issue- like the issue of Independence in Colonial America - has simmered ever since.
One parent was pleased. She said the no-foods-for-celebration prohibition has helped her kids snack healthier at home, too.
She said it teaches kids that there is more to “celebration” than the sugary treats, said a parent. When asked to name something better she couldn’t.
Collin Henry, a third-grade teacher at Great Falls, said on Wednesday he rewards students who bring in healthy snacks like fruits and vegetables with points that can earn a classroom prize. Henry said the new rule is “the norm now. For the most part, they (students) seem OK with it.”
Spicer caused a stir at Great Falls in October when she walked in with a filled cupcake carrier, but it contained paper cupcakes, which are not yet prohibited.
“No one has intentionally challenged the new K-5 procedure. A few items came in when the year started from unknowing parents that were turned away,” Fortier said. “It really has been a non-issue.”
The new Gorham rule originates from the district’s involvement in Let’s Go, a national childhood anti-obesity program that advocates more physical exercise and healthy eating for children. Fortier, who facilitates Gorham’s K-12 District dmondson said more than 70 percent of the staff at Gorham elementary schools supported the new procedure.
One mother said Cape Elizabeth’s elementary school has had non-food celebrations for 10 years, and in 2011 the Windham-Raymond School District revised its policy for similar celebrations.
In objecting to the ban, a parent pointed out that the Gorham elementary schools are funded by tax dollars, and she’s considering a petition to put the matter on a town ballot for voters to decide the issue.
To paraphrase a previous patriotic slogan: “Forget the Maine, just remember the Cupcake!”
John McDonald is a humorist and storyteller who performs regularly throughout
New England. Contact John at mainestoryteller@yahoo.com or 899-1868.
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