Halloween on a high school campus is a big deal. In a world where the majority of the individuals are still searching for their true identity, a chance to dress up in borrowed clothes, don a mask and a persona, and push the boundaries of taste and social norms (or at least mom’s comfort zone) is about as appealing as a bucket full of candy to an eight year old.
At some schools Halloween is a nightmare. As an assistant principal I knew that part of my day would be spent watching the sea of costumes for those whose taste ran afoul of the dress code or school rules. Pregnant nun? Maybe. Go-Go dancer? Hmmm. Texas Chainsaw Massacre? No.
Beyond the usual togas and superhero capes, past the expected ninjas and zombies, occasional inspiration rears its all hallows head.
Noticeable this year at San Dieguito were a towering inflatable Tyrannosaurus Rex, a delightfully steampunk angel, and a fellow in street clothes holding a sign that read “Nudist on Strike!” A costume contest at lunch saw a motorized mail truck, a truly impressive Cinderella and Prince Charming, and a ghost on rollerblades who looked like he might break his neck “floating” across the stage.
One teacher came as a frighteningly authentic Khal Drago, another in a vintage 1940s dress as a teacher from San Dieguito’s early years, and another enlisted her daughter to form a team of Madeline and Miss Clavel.
At San Dieguito even the adults get in on the fun.
Going with a superhero theme this year, our administrative team allowed our inner kids to spread their capes. Wonder Woman, Elasitgirl, and the Flash roamed the breezeways. During homeroom we handed out goodies as the kids trick or treated.
While most schools where I’ve worked actively discourage kids dressing up, or at least view it as a battle they need to prepare for, at San Dieguito out ASB rewards costumes, inviting students to travel from classroom to classroom trick or treating like they were eight again.
Education in its present incarnation does enough to put pressure on students, asking them to act grown up as they take on responsibilities and face pressure. At San Dieguito Halloween is a reminder to take time to have fun and laugh together.
As the principal, do I love every costume, even the naughty ones? No. But the students do, and as with so much, more often than not the kids make great choices. They have fun, they play, they get to pretend, and they celebrate this opportunity to come to their school and have some good clean fun.
That’s a good day.