I once worked with a principal who said he would rather work on Christmas Day than have to come to school on Halloween. Years of having to pull pregnant nuns and gorilla suited hooligans into his office had beaten the ghoulish spirit out of him. I remember once walking into his office as a nurse who didn’t meet the dress code exited and seeing him roll his eyes and spit the word like it was a curse: “Halloween.”
It’s with this history that I approach the final week of October. I’m an optimist at heart, but know that with the costumes marketed toward teens today I could be walking onto a campus that looks like a cross between Saw IV and Faster, Pussycat Kill! Kill!
This year, I was surprised.
The first startling realization was that the adults were having a ball. I saw an astronaut, cowboy, Indiana Jones, and Princess Leia …and that was just the staff. Hester Prynne taught English. A pirate, complete with pirate ship, taught Science. A gladiator taught History, “Weird Owl Yankovic” taught business, and AP Art History students learned from Sister Wendy.
I excavated my letterman sweater to join counseling and admin as we adopted a ‘50s theme. Elvis piped through the offices. Comfort and discipline were delivered with a high ponytail and poodle skirt.
Out on campus, students dressed up in droves. Overwhelmingly appropriate, wit outweighed poor decision making. Degas’ Dancer, Mona Lisa, and the Girl with the Pearl Earring stopped by my office to say hello. Slash played catch with The Cat in the Hat, students preparing for next week’s flag football tournament. An uncanny Dr. Evil and Austin Powers won the costume contest, and I believe Napoleon Dynamite made it the whole day without breaking character.
By far the most striking moment of the day, however, came when I rounded a corner and looked up into the bearded face of an imposing knight. Eight feet tall, with tree branches sticking up from his helmet, he waved his fish at me and shouted “Ni!” All I could do was offer him a shrubbery.
I’ll text a few photos to my friend, the principal who hates Halloween. He’ll laugh at the “Monster Mash” flash mob and my ASB Director, the rapper. I may not win him over to liking the holiday, but I think that, like me, he’ll appreciate the Monty Python gag, and leave with a spirit of hope that today’s kids possess both common sense and a great sense of humor.