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The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

The Student-Run Newspaper of Townsend Harris High School at Queens College

The Classic

DOE Academic Calendar adds Diwali to list of public school observances

Diyas%2C+pictured+above%2C+are+oil+lamps+that+are+lit+during+Diwali.+They+portray+good+energy%2C+purity%2C+and+protect+those+who+light+them+from+bad+spirits.+
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Diyas, pictured above, are oil lamps that are lit during Diwali. They portray good energy, purity, and protect those who light them from bad spirits.
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Recently, Mayor Eric Adams announced Diwali as an official public school holiday on the New York City Department of Education school calendar. The addition of this holiday aims to acknowledge the more than 200,000 NYC residents who celebrate Diwali each year. Due to Diwali falling on a weekend this November, students will not have a day off for it until the 2024-25 school year.

“[Now] we can have time to enjoy the holiday,” said rising freshman Sophie Thanju. Sophie said that in previous years, not having any time off meant that her family would be in a rush to celebrate. Commonly referred to as the festival of lights, Diwali is celebrated globally by Hindus, Sikhs, Jains, and some Buddhists. The day commemorates the triumph of light over darkness and good over evil each November.

Other students agreed and said that they approve of the decision, as many students at Townsend Harris High School observe the holiday.

“I feel like [adding] these holidays makes students of other races and backgrounds feel more included,” said rising freshman Methulia Medage.

At an event marking the calendar change, Mayor Adams spoke about those who celebrate the holiday and said “we see you, we hear you, we respect you — and your culture is part of the New York experience.”

This is not the first holiday to be added on the public school calendar in recent years. Two years ago, Juneteenth, a celebration marking the end of slavery in the United States, formally became a federal holiday and joined the NYC calendar. In 2015, the DOE added celebrations for Lunar New Year, Eid al-Fitr, and Eid al-Adha.

The initial release of the school calendar for next year generated controversy when people said there should be days off for the Monday after Easter, the last two days of Passover (which fall on a Monday and a Tuesday), and the Monday after Eid al-Adha begins. The DOE later updated the calendar to include these days as well.

One THHS student observed that while there are numerous new days off being provided by the city, officials should also acknowledge the holidays of Orthodox Christians, who celebrate days like Easter later in the calendar. In 2024, Orthodox Good Friday is on May 3 and Easter Sunday is May 5. However, NY state requires at least 180 school days each year. Though releasing a calendar may seem a simple task, negotiating how to best acknowledge holidays while still meeting the 180 day requirement can be more complicated.

Nonetheless, after officially adding Diwali to the calendar, the DOE released the 2024-25 and 2025-26 school calendar in advance, demonstrating how these observances will impact school schedules moving forward.

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