I remember celebrating Halloween in elementary school. We always had a party, ate lots of candy, and wore our costumes. The costume thing is a big deal in North Dakota because it’s almost inevitable that it will be so cold, the only thing people will see while you are out trick-or-treating is your heavy winter coat, not your brand-new Halloween get-up.
I remember bobbing for apples in fourth grade and how gross we all thought it was because somebody else’s spit might have gotten in the water. Middle school brought about the witch- and ghost-themed worksheets, as well as the more sophisticated version of dressing up, with items such as spider web earrings and monster-covered socks. Even in high school, one of the best parts of being a senior was finally getting to go to the seniors-only Halloween party. I fondly remember my costume from that year: a “holy cow.” (Yeah, my sense of humor has always been a little weird.)
But lately it seems that the whole idea of Halloween is becoming taboo—and I think it’s a bummer. It’s difficult when your class wants to enjoy a holiday and you, as the teacher, have to worry about offending someone or breaking any rules. Last year my boys wanted a party. We called it a Fall Festival and made caramel apples, wrote spooky poems, and watched a movie. I’m sure we’ll do something similar this year, and I set up a field trip for Friday as well.
I think the hardest part for me as a teacher, especially a special ed teacher, is seeing my students so excited about something and not being able to fully tap into that. My students have been talking about Halloween for weeks now; one brought up the topic the first week of school. I know what their costumes will be, their game plans to hit the houses with the best candy, and the estimated weight and number of treats they expect to collect.
Perhaps my favorite comment thus far was from the student who asked if I could please talk to the administration or school board about canceling school the day after Halloween—so he could eat as much candy as he wanted and not have to worry about coming to school the next day with a tummy-ache. He didn’t seem to believe me when I explained I didn’t have that kind of power.
I guess I will just keep talking to my students about their plans as they bring it up, and I won’t worry too much if the “H word” sneaks out at our Fall Festival party.