Students in Northwest Suburban High School District 214 will have to attend school on Veterans Day for the first time during the 2014-2015 school year, officials said.
The district has never held school on the November holiday, but that will change because of calendar issues and a desire to educate more students about the holiday, said district spokeswoman Venetia Miles.
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The way the calendar falls in 2014-2015 made it necessary for the district to either cut winter break short or end the school year with finals on a Monday, Miles said.
Although Veterans Day is a federal holiday, public schools can choose to hold school on the day if they first hold a public hearing and then include the holiday's meaning in the day's curriculum.
The school board held a public hearing on the matter in May, when no one spoke up about the issue, and then unanimously approved the calendar change.
Miles said the district's six high schools will plan a special lesson or program on Veterans Day to help students learn and celebrate the holiday.
"It's an opportunity to have students in school to learn about all the contributions that veterans have made and learn about the meaning of the day," she said.
Some local veterans disagree with the decision, saying everyone should have off school and work that day to honor veterans' sacrifices.
"I think they should have the day off. They honor a whole lot of other folks with days off," said Gene Fehringer, color guard commander with Arlington Heights American Legion Post 208.
"I just feel that they should recognize and remember our veterans for what they did. If we don't do anything, people just forget," he added.
But District 214 School Board President Bill Dussling, a Vietnam veteran, disagreed. Holding school is a good way to educate students about the importance of veterans, he said.
"It's very important for them to understand the importance of the day and what our veterans do. We can do that through our curriculum in ways that I'm not sure they would get when its just a day off school," Dussling said.
District 214 also holds classes on Casimir Pulaski Day in March and Abraham Lincoln's Birthday in February.
Palatine-Schaumburg High School District 211 and Elgin Area Unit District 46 approved similar changes to allow for school to be held on Veterans Day in 2014.