“State holiday” naming debate continues

A fierce debate has divided districts across the country, begging the question of whether or not modernity should overcome tradition, and whether or not Columbus deserves to be honored. Columbus Day, a state holiday that has sparked conversation for years, has recently garnered attention of students and the school board. 

On the school calendar, October 10, 2022 was labeled “State Holiday” rather than “Columbus Day” as it had been in years past.

Holden resident and school committee member George Kaminski passionately argued for the preservation of the original holiday. During the public school committee meeting on October 11th, 2022, Kaminski introduced a motion designed to name the holiday Columbus Day to the school calendar. 

“Columbus was a hero, he was an achiever. He achieved great things. In spite of all the trouble and obstacles he had. His voyage was nothing short of heroic,” Kaminski said during the public meeting. 

Some students disagree with Kaminski. Freshman Emily Stock presents the opposing side of the debate.

“Columbus was a bad guy who did horrible things, and celebrating him is harmful to the descendants of the natives that were killed,” said Stock.

Senior Hillary Asamoah agrees.

“Christopher Columbus didn’t really discover the Americas, and he killed Indigenous peoples. Since he didn’t really do anything he shouldn’t be celebrated at all,” said Asamoah.

History, Sociology, and Psychology teacher Sarah King offered historical facts to the argument.

“Historical evidence has shown that Columbus committed more atrocities than he did good things,” said King. “The indigenous population suffered greatly during that time period.”

Freshman Thai-an Menard agrees.

“I think that it shouldn’t be called Columbus Day because Columbus enslaved the people that were already here before him and basically stole their home,” said Menard.

Freshman Maxim Rabkin suggests a new name for the state holiday altogether.

“I think we should rename it to Colonization Remembrance Day, where we learn about the horrible actions that resulted from Columbus and other colonizers,” said Rabkin.

There are many arguments as to what the holiday should be named. Some national suggestions are Indigenous Peoples’ Day or Leif Erikson Day. 

“I don’t think it should be Indigenous Peoples’ Day because I feel like a lot of it becomes hating Columbus instead of celebrating natives. I think Indigenous Peoples’ Day should just be celebrated on a different day,” said Rabkin.

Rabkin presents another part of the issue: how the name of the holiday may not actually reflect who is honored, or what people think about on that day. 

“I don’t really feel that most people even appreciate the meanings behind why we have certain holidays,” King said. “The world has become so hyper focused on productivity that people are often more excited to just have a day off of work or school, rather than understand and appreciate why we have that day off.”