photo 2 (11)They lurched onto campus in droves, rotting flesh, tattered clothing, and hollow, smiling eyes. This twelve and thirteen year old horde of the walking dead filled Diegueño with an infectious sense of glee. I complimented one young fellow on his makeup and without breaking character he groaned: “braaaaaaaaaaains.” Good clean fun.

I told the kids I needed to be an adult until after lunch. It was then that they could make me look like a zombie. And I’d start jogging.

This Monday of Halloween week our ASB hosted the first annual “Zombie Fun Run.” I say first because parents, students, and teachers all commented on how fun it was, and how much they’d like to see it become a Diegueño tradition. Me, I was just happy not to have the kids selling magazines.

Fundraisers have been a part of public school education for a long time; I remember selling candy bars at Parrish Junior High decades ago. This infusion of support allows schools to do a lot of the fun stuff that brings kids together. Our school community enjoys Spirit Day in the spring, lunchtime activities, and guest speakers as a result of the financial support our parents give us, and we’re thankful for it. We’re also mindful that parents and grandparents don’t need more gift wrap or magazines, that we probably have enough candy in our houses already, and that a tin of caramel corn may not be the best way to spend $20.

This isn’t to say that you’ll never have an opportunity to help support the kids by buying something, but for our big fundraiser of the year we wanted to do something that did three things: promoted health, drew our school community together, and was fun.

The natural answer, of course, was zombies.

And the kids responded with exuberance. On what might have been a humdrum Monday in October, I saw our students laughing, helping each other with makeup, and giving high fives to each other not because they were friends, but because they appreciated each others’ costumes.

We kept the costumes appropriate, PG gore, not PG-13, no axes, no machetes, no chainsaws. And we kept the spirit of the day celebratory, as students and teachers laughed together at the fun they were having.

At the end of the day I had exactly zero complaints from teachers about students sitting in class dressed as the undead. I had the same number of complaints from the kids about their teachers dressed as zombies.

We raised a healthy amount of money today to go toward student activities, and while we did, we raised the spirit of our whole school family. A little off kilter? Sure. But a nice example of middle school sensibility.

In the end the bottom line wasn’t judged by how much money came in, but in the truth of these four words: the kids had fun. Our ASB worked hard and created an event that was good for Diegueño . It took lots of effort, heaps of spirit, and of course, brains.

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