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Originally published February 5, 2014 at 8:51 PM | Page modified February 6, 2014 at 4:31 PM

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Schools jump on bandwagon as students stay away in droves

Classroom learning gave way to a celebration of Seattle’s NFL Championship, with most schools allowing students to attend the Seahawks victory parade with parental permission.

Seattle Times staff reporters

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Classroom learning at schools around the Seattle area gave way Wednesday to a different kind of history and civics lesson: taking part in the massive downtown rally to honor the Seattle Seahawks.

School districts in Seattle, Renton and Kent, which all had said initially they would not excuse students for the parade, apparently yielded to public opinion, saying by late Wednesday they would allow the absences.

More than 13,000 students were reported absent from Seattle Public Schools Wednesday, nearly five times the number of the previous day.

More than half of Ingraham High School’s 1,100 students were out, said Principal Martin Floe. He said nearly 300 had permission from their parents and he expects more will bring in notes on Thursday.

Other schools had earlier said they would allow the absences, and some Catholic high schools closed for the day to allow students to attend the parade.

Renton parent Mark Murray, at the Seahawks celebration, said he decided to take his son out of middle school for the day with or without school approval.

It was “a matter of math,” Murray said, noting that he and his son, Marcellos, have spent hundreds, if not thousands, of hours cheering the Seahawks over the years.

“When you calculate all those hours that we’ve put into this, one day is worth it,” said Murray. He said he was about his son’s age when he skipped school for the victory parade honoring the 1979 Sonics’ NBA Championship.

As late as midday Wednesday, an announcement on the Renton School District’s website said missing school to attend the event would be considered an unexcused absence.

“We support the Seattle Seahawks, and they play a great role in our schools and with our students, but, we strongly believe the education of all our students comes first,” it said.

But by midafternoon, that message was replaced with one saying: “Upon further review of the excused absence policy ... and communication with our neighboring districts, Renton School District will allow excused absences” for the Seahawks event, provided the students get parental permission.

The Kent district, reported earlier as not authorizing the absences, also had decided by Wednesday to allow them with parental permission.

Other districts, including Bellevue, Highline, Northshore and Lake Washington, said from the start that they would excuse the absences if students get parental permission.

And several private high schools closed to allow students to attend the parade, including Kennedy Catholic High School in Burien; O’Dea, Seattle Preparatory and Bishop Blanchet in Seattle, and Archbishop Murphy in Everett.

At Lake Washington Public Schools, spokeswoman Kathryn Reith said 7,053 of the district’s 26,222 students were absent. The absentee rate for the day was highest among high-school students, she said.

Anne Quaranta did not get any message from her school district, Lake Washington, but decided to pull her son Colby Christianson out of school anyway and take him to the parade.

Fourth-grader Colby had dyed his hair green and blue for the celebration, and the two were hanging out with friends in front of the Seattle Public Library, waiting for the parade to begin.

“I remember when the Sonics had their parade, and I didn’t come,” Quaranta said. She has always regretted not being able to go, she said.

Seattle Superintendent José Banda said on Monday missing school for the parade would be an unexcused absence, but on Tuesday told principals they could individually decide to allow the absences with parental permission.

Kathi Church brought her son Clayton and his friend Sophie Maskill, both 11, even though she says she’s usually a stickler about not missing school. The two are in sixth grade at Denny International Middle School.

“We figured this is a once-in-a-lifetime thing,” she said, adding, “Clayton’s first-period teacher said the entire first-period class was going to be gone.”

Rachel Thompson, of Federal Way, pulled her two daughters out of school to wait along the parade route.

Thompson said she told her daughters’ teachers exactly where they were going.

“They said, ‘Fine, have fun’ and I said, ‘I will!’ This is part of history — we’re not going to miss out on being part of it.”

Jack Broom: or 206-464-2222.

Seattle Times reporters Katherine Long and Alexa Vaughn contributed to this report.

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