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Wisconsin Public School Observance Days

2016-17 School Year Observance Days

Background

Wisconsin's 21 special observance days are part of state statutes governing general school operations (Wis. Stat. sec. 118.02). Federal law has moved the celebration of many legal holidays to Monday, however, state law recommends that each Wisconsin Special Observance Day be held on the day itself. When an observance day falls on a Saturday or Sunday, it should be observed on the preceding Friday or the following Monday.

Honoring observance days can teach the elements of tradition that preserve U.S. society and foster an awareness of our cultural heritage. Observance days can be part of a rich social studies curriculum that gives these individuals and events proper emphasis, both in the context of Wisconsin and U.S. history and in relation to their effect on or improvement of our political, economic, and social institutions.

Mildred Fish Harnack Day - 2016

09/16/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Commemorates the only native-born American known to have been executed by the Gestapo in Nazi Germany. Mildred Fish Harnack was born in Milwaukee in 1902. Enacted April 10, 1986, from the...

U.S. Constitution Day - 2016

09/17/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Representatives of 12 of the 13 original states signed the U.S. Constitution on September 17, 1787. The Constitution, with its 27 amendments, defines the federal system of government and...

Wisconsin Day - 2016

09/21/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Commemorates the assets that make Wisconsin a desirable place to live and work. Falls on the Wednesday of the third week of September, which by gubernatorial proclamation is Wonderful...

POW-MIA Recognition Day - 2016

09/23/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Established to recognize those who suffered or suffer captivity in foreign countries while in active service with the U.S. armed forces. Observed the third Friday in September. Enacted...

Bullying Awareness Day - 2016

09/28/2016
Established as one of 21 Wisconsin Public School Observance Days to bring attention to the harmful affects of bullying in the school setting. Bullying may negatively impact a student's connection with school, their engagement with the curriculum,...

Frances Willard Day - 2016

09/28/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Commemorates the Janesville teacher and lecturer who was influential in the early women's movement and was president of the Women's Christian Temperance Union from 1879 until her death in...

Leif Erikson Day - 2016

10/09/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Leif Erikson was born in Iceland and raised in Greenland. Norse sagas written 300 years after his death describe his explorations, around 1000 CE, of a land he called "Vinland." The...

Christopher Columbus Day - 2016

10/12/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. The first expedition led by Christopher Columbus sighted land somewhere in the Bahamas on October 12, 1492. Columbus' voyages are recognized as the start of sustained contact between...

Veterans Day - 2016

11/11/2016
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute (Wis. Stat. sec. 118.02). This observance day began in 1919 as Armistice Day to commemorate the end of World War I.  In 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower signed legislation changing...

Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Observance Day - 2017

01/15/2017
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. School Observance Day to honor the civil rights leader, minister, and winner of the 1964 Nobel Peace Prize. Born in Atlanta, GA, on January 15, 1929; assassinated April 4, 1968. The federal holiday is celebrated on the...

Abraham Lincoln Day - 2017

02/12/2017
Wisconsin School Observance Day honoring the 16th president of the United States. Lincoln was born February 12, 1809, in Hardin County, Kentucky; assassinated 1865. Observed as a federal holiday (Presidents' Day) on the third Monday in February....

Susan B. Anthony Day - 2017

02/15/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day honoring the Feb. 15, 1820, birth of Susan B. Anthony, an early suffragist, who organized campaigns across the United States advocating for women's right to vote, get an education, and own property. In 1872,...

George Washington Day - 2017

02/22/2017
Wisconsin School Observance Day honoring the first president of the United States. Washington was born February 22, 1732; died 1799. He is honored for his efforts to create a new nation dedicated to the rights of the people. Observed as a federal...

Casimir Pulaski Day - 2017

03/04/2017
Wisconsin public school observance day required by statute. Commemorates the life of the Poland native who was born in 1747. He came to America in 1777, after fighting for Poland's independence, and joined forces with General Washington. After...

"The Great Hunger" in Ireland

03/17/2017
"The Great Hunger" in Ireland from 1845 to 1850, also known as the Great Famine or Irish Potato Famine, is considered by many to be the most tragic event in Irish history.  Enacted April 20, 2004, from the 2003 Laws of Wisconsin, Act 305. More...

Prisoners of War Remembrance Day - 2017

04/09/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day commemorating the date during World War II when the largest number of Americans were captured in the Conquest of Bataan. Customarily observed through gubernatorial proclamation, the day recognizes those who...

American's Creed Day - 2017

04/13/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day recognizing the American's Creed, written in 1917 by William Tyler Page, a messenger in the U.S. House of Representatives. His essay was judged the "best summary of American political faith" in national contest...

Patriots' Day - 2017

04/19/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day to mark the date in 1775 when shots were fired in Lexington, beginning of the Revolutionary War. Enacted August 30, 2001, from the 2001 Laws of Wisconsin, Act 16 budget bill. More information and educational...

Environmental Awareness Day - 2017

04/22/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day, marking the anniversary of Earth Day (April 22, 1970) and urging schools to conduct programs across subject areas to enhance students' understanding of the environment and to promote an ethic of environmental...

Arbor Day - 2017

04/28/2017
The Arbor Day movement began in the 1800s to promote conservation and beautification of the environment. Wisconsin School Observance Day and national observance day to encourage people to plant and care for trees. Observed in Wisconsin on the last...

Robert La Follette Sr. Day - 2017

06/14/2017
Wisconsin Public School Observance Day required by statute if school is in session. Commemorates Robert LaFollette who served in the U.S. House of Representatives, as governor, and in the U.S. Senate. He was one of the founders of the Progressive...