Parent Melody Vannus was surprised Friday when she wasn’t allowed to drop off a Valentine’s Day gift for her daughter at Winfree Bryant Middle School.
“They told me they weren’t accepting gifts,” said Vannus. “They said there about 25 other people who also did this, and they turned all of them away.”
Vannus said all she wanted to do was bring her daughter, seventh-grader Eme Vannus, a plastic heart-shaped bowl filled with head bands, barrettes, Valentine’s Day socks, Hershey Kisses and Butterfingers.
She said she had no problem delivering her son’s gift to Lebanon High School. Camren Vannus is a freshman at Lebanon High School.
“They said they could call her out of class, she could come up and see that I brought the gift and return to class,” Vannus said. “She grabbed a handful of candy and headed back to class.
“I think it’s a tragedy that we are more concerned about our own workload or that everyone will get something than a girl getting a confidence boost from her dad dropping off a card.
“I understand no glass and no balloons. I get that. I think we need to consider giving it a little bit of attention. I can’t figure out a good reason. We already don’t have any peanut butter in the cafeteria. Valentine’s Day is one of the most important days for girls to feel special.”
According to Winfree Bryant Middle School principal Becky Kegley, notes were sent home with students earlier in the week notifying them of the delivery policy. Vannus said she didn’t get a note nor was any information posted on the school’s website.
“It would be a major distraction to the students all day long,” Kegley said. “It would be almost as if we could not have school on Valentine’s Day.
“We never take deliveries, whether it be for birthdays or anything like that. We try to keep disruptions down to a minimum and maximize learning. We want to level the playing field as much as we can and make everyone feel special.”
Lebanon Director of Schools Scott Benson said each school has its own policy regarding deliveries on Valentine’s Day or any other day.
“We’ve probably spent more time today talking about it than ever before,” Benson said. “It’s left up to the individual schools. Before today, I couldn’t have told you what school did what.
“I’m sure we will have a conversation when [the principals and I] get together. I don’t know that we will have a blanket district policy, but we will have conversations with our principals to make sure what they are doing is appropriate.”
At Walter J. Baird Middle School, a secretary said students were allowed to receive Valentine’s Day gifts, which were distributed at the end of the day. No glass or balloons were allowed.
At Byars Dowdy Elementary School, a secretary said deliveries were also accepted and distributed at the end of the day.
She said the students could come and look at them but could not take them into classrooms. And they weren’t allowed on buses.
Sam Houston Elementary School principal Julie Beasley deliveries were also allowed Friday, but not many came into the office.
“We allow things to be delivered at school as long as they can be taken on the bus,” Beasley said. “If they are not items that can be taken on the bus, they would have to be a car rider.
“I’m not aware there is a written policy anywhere. We just handle it just like we do with birthdays or Christmas. We don’t have a whole lot of deliveries, so it’s really not that much of a disruption to our day.”
Much like Winfree Bryant, both Coles Ferry Elementary School and Castle Heights Elementary School do not allow deliveries to students of any kind, whether on Valentine’s Day or any day.
Coles Ferry principal Brian Hutto took a proactive approach ahead of Friday to avoid any confusion.
“Prior to Valentine’s Day, we contacted the local flower shops and told them we don’t accept deliveries,” Hutto said. “This is due to any potential transportation, safety and allergy issues. We want to make sure everyone is safe between the latex, peanuts and things like that.
“We do allow parties, but we ask the parents to take the things home with them when they leave.”
Castle Heights principal Terry Trice said the policy at his school is more about fairness among the students.
“At Castle Heights, this is our 18th year, and we have never accepted deliveries on Valentine’s Day,” he said.