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October 11, 2010 06:01 PM

MN Schools In Session For Columbus Day

Luverne, MN


Most students had the day off for Columbus Day, or Native American Day, as it's known in South Dakota. But not in Minnesota; schools there were in session as usual.
But administrators say it has more to do with the way the school calendar falls, than the holiday itself.

It's business as usual at Luverne High School Monday. Senior Joel Wohnoutka admits he didn't even realize it was Columbus Day until last night, when he heard from a friend in South Dakota who had the day off.

"I never really thought about it before, but it doesn't really make a difference to me because if we take it off, we have to come back and make it up later," Wohnoutka said.

In Minnesota it's considered an "optional holiday," so schools can take it off if they want, but they're not required to do so.

Principal Ryan Johnson says there's a good reason most Minnesota schools don't close for Columbus Day. Students get two days off next week for fall break, which coincides with the annual meeting of the state teacher's union.

"All of the public schools in Minnesota recognize Education Minnesota's fall break, so they have meetings for teachers to go to," Johnson said.

Johnson says administrators don't see a need for another day off, and neither do many students.

"So many days off in that period of time is just ridiculous," Wohnoutka said.

Plus, students aren't likely to travel for Columbus Day like they would for some other holidays.

"Obviously it's a little different than if we're talking about Thanksgiving or Christmas," Johnson said.

"I think you should kind of remember what it's about, but to me, it doesn't need to be a huge deal," Wohnoutka said.

Minnesota schools do observe Veteran's Day and Martin Luther King Junior's birthday, but consider the day after Thanksgiving an "optional holiday."
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