Princeton elementary school principal reverses decision to scrap Halloween and Valentine’s Day celebrations after backlash

The new principal at Riverside Elementary School has reversed a decision she announced this week to eliminate the school’s Halloween parade and celebration and the annual Valentine’s Day celebration after news of the changes resulted in an outcry from parents and community members.

Riverside Elementary School Principal Ebony Lattimer informed parents in an email Friday morning that the traditional holiday traditions will continue this year. Discussions will be held with families before a long-term decision is made, she wrote.

“I realize we’re still learning more about each other. Still, I hope your early takeaways will be that my top desires are to provide an effective learning environment inclusive of all of our students and that I will always listen and engage with the school community I serve. The Halloween parade has historically resulted in a few students opting out and staying home for religious or cultural reasons. Therefore, I was striving to create an option that every student could enjoy,” Lattimer wrote.

“From the feedback I have received, I realize that this will require a more profound discussion before we can make a firm decision,” Lattimer wrote. “Our school and district greatly value parent and family engagement in guiding decision-making. Therefore, we will continue with the traditional holiday activities for this school year and have school-wide discussions for potential changes in the future.”

On Sept. 21, Lattimer informed parents that the traditional Halloween parade and celebration and the annual Valentine’s Day celebration would be replaced to make the school more inclusive. Lattimer’s plan was to replace the Halloween celebration with a book bonanza day that would include a parade where students would be asked to dress up as their favorite book character and celebrate why this character is their favorite. Valentine’s Day would be replaced with an “Upstander Day” in February that would “highlight our students and the Riverside normative culture, as they display the upstander codes of respect, responsibility, safety, and positivity.”

Some parents expressed frustration that Lattimer made her decisions prior to discussing them with families. She also had the school’s longtime “River Bear” that greeted students in the lobby thrown out without consulting others. The decision to eliminate the traditional holiday celebrations generated more than 125 comments on Planet Princeton’s website and social media channels. On Friday morning, local radio station hosts had a field day with the topic.

Superintendent of Schools Carol Kelley issued a statement about the Halloween issue just before noon on Friday.

“I applaud our Riverside Elementary principal, Ebony Lattimer, for proposing new and creative opportunities for learning and inclusivity to her school community,” Kelley wrote. “However, what’s always tricky as a leader is balancing your ideas with the decision-making process of engaging and involving the people you serve. Principal Lattimer’s handling of the school community’s response is commendable. She is not closing the door on the proposed options but pausing to have deeper discussions with Riverside families. Parent and family engagement are the fabric of Princeton Public Schools.”


  1. Orwell. “If liberty means anything at , it means to tell people what do not want to hear “
    WOW, it seems that the new Riverside principal flunked Riverside anthropology 101. She did not due her due diligence in the tribal creeds and customs of the neighborhood
    Really benching Pocahontas, with this at times , irrational , myopic woke group think is a bad strategic move. This is an unnecessary distraction, to real issues affecting our students
    Students who are not emotional hemophiliacs , who need some child proof safe space. The real world ???? does not work like that

    Some real issues to focus on , off the top of my head

    – How about implementing parts of the 2021 special review. Concerning the need for co-teaching and principal led accountability

    – The sky is literally falling in at Littlebrook. With leaky roofs and water ???? damage

    – focus on the PHS referendum. Which is currently behind schedule and over budget to the tune of 1 million dollars

    – or property tax relief for all Princetonians. It could be possible after past referendums bonds mature in the next 2 years and debts are paid off !

  2. I think the Princeton School District is now being run by people who are out of touch with the values of the Princeton community. Why are we paying twice as much as other towns for this? When did we decide that that wokeness was more important than educating our students -both holistically (eliminating cultural traditions as evidenced here, and see the discussion elsewhere on PP on not allowing a child to participate on an athletic teams) and academically (PHS has been reducing the number of advanced academic classes to eliminate the problem of the demographics in those classes). Our children are not receiving the education we think we are paying for. Inclusivity should be a top value, but it’s being used here as a weapon — as a sledgehammer to eliminate lots of items that some administrators simply don’t like.

    There is a school board election in next month. We need to elect representatives who are more in touch with the community.

  3. Our school district in one of the most conservative parts of Texas did this a good twenty years ago with no problems. Maybe it’s only a problem when more liberal communities do it?


    I made Riverside’s graduation bookmarks featuring my logo design of Riverbear since 1994. I took it over from another Riverside mom. That is until a previous misguided new principal decided that particular tradition was not worth maintaining. There were many hurt younger siblings who wanted their bookmarks and did not get them.

    I’ve been a Riverside mom since 1991 and a sub since 2004. I feel this is unconscionable. Traditions are important. They make the school what it is. Riverside hasn’t been what it was in years, And I would know.

    My children are in their 30s now, but they are outraged. And Bill Cirullo must be spinning in his grave.

  5. Am curious about the ‘reducing the number of advanced academic classes…’ What is that about? Thanks.

  6. I could not wait to leave the princeton community. The ridiculous property taxes were a driver. But then to see what our schools have become sent our family over the edge.

  7. I think its very much in touch with the values of the Princeton community. “Equity” not equality. Believe me, it’s going to get worse.

  8. River Bear was thrown out in June, before the new principal came in. FYI. Sort of irresponsible to post that incorrectly…

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