Friendship parties replace Valentine's parties
By Pat McGonigle
ST. LOUIS COUNTY (KSDK) - If you recall buying individual Valentine's Day cards for all 25 students in your grade school classroom, you are not alone. But you might be surprised to discover that the traditional elementary school Valentine's Day classroom party is not what it used to be.
Early education experts say it's an improvement---and, before your get your hackles up, insist there is no "war on Valentine's Day" at America's schools.
"Oh, heavens no," says Dr. Donna Wagener, principal at Trautwein Elementary in the Mehlville School District.
Trautwein Elementary is one of 24 schools across the country designated as a National School of Character. It's an honor reserved only for schools that excel in incorporating "character education in everything they do."
A "Friendship Party" at a first grade classroom at Trautwein Elementary looks and sounds a lot like the way you probably remember Valentine's Day parties.
Friendship parties aren't unique to Trautwein Elementary. Several other districts, including the Parkway School District, focus on friendship on February 14.
"It's just like any other holiday party," sats Patrick Sloan, a 6-year-old at Trautwein. "Except we talk about ways to be a good friend."
"We just make sure we're being Tigers of Integrity," says fellow first grader Madison Pike.
"We still make Valentines and stuff," says Patrick Sloan.
Chris Eddy, another first grader at Trautwein, likes friendship parties because, "we talk a lot about caring and sharing."
"We haven't eliminated Valentine's Day," says Dr. Wagener. "We've just tried to reinforce that this is a day that we recognize each other as friends and we treat each other as friends."
So we can still buy a 25-pack of "Be Mine" Valentine Cards and make a Valentine mailbox out of shoe box?
"Of course," smiles Dr. Wagener.