CENTERVILLE, Pa. (WHTM) – A fifth-grade play that has been a December tradition for 40-plus years is not happening this year, and many parents believe it is because two parents complained about a line.

Centerville Elementary School students perform “A Christmas Carol” each year. This year, though, the students will not bring the Charles Dickens classic to the stage.

It began when the school received complaints about the line “God bless us, every one.”

“I was very surprised because it’s been going on for decades and it’s a tradition at the school that everybody looks forward to,” said Jane Burkhart, who knows children at the school.

Hempfield School District leaders confirm the original complaints are what led to an examination of the play that ended with its cancelation, but they claim it was not canceled because of the line, but because it took 20 hours of classroom education away from students.

“It’s not a part of the written curriculum of fifth grade, but students and teachers were required to participate in it and we can’t allow that to continue,” said Shannon Zimmerman, a district spokeswoman.

District leaders say parents are encouraged to try to organize their own after-school play.Get breaking news, weather and traffic on the go. Download our News App and our Weather App for your phone and tablet.