Last night my wife and I went to a parenting seminar in a neighboring town. The talk was held at the local middle school / high school. Upon entering the building I was delighted to see many Halloween decorations, including ghosts, jack-0-lanterns, and black cats. Why delighted? Simply because so many schools these days are going the 'politically correct route' and banishing anything that may be interpreted as 'pagan.' As most parents know, it only takes one bad apple complaining to the school board to ruin it for everyone. Many schools these days are relegated to 'Fall' festivals and accompanying decorations (leaves, acorns, pumpkins - not jack-o-lanterns - Indian corn, and the like).
At this school, at least, Halloween appears to be alive and well. The same seems to be true of the local school here in town where our young daughter attends. I was equally delighted to see the October calendar she brought home. Printed on the orange paper in black ink were jack-o-lanterns, ghosts, and bats. On the crucial day of October 31st, there are printed the words: "Costume Party - You May Wear or Bring A Costume For the Day!" Hurray! Thank goodness Halloween lives on in some schools! Their curriculum for the month also includes learning about scarecrows, owls, spiders, and bats.
When I was in grade school (grades 1-6) we had a Halloween party every year - not a Fall Festival - a Halloween Party. And it was huge, too - with lots of games and candy. In fact, one game involved a tumbling mat that was used for P.E., and you had to run past a teacher that was dressed up as The Devil and try to get by him. He would stand absolutely still - when you tried to run by him he would stick out his leg and trip you. He was very hard to get by, and a lot of kids were too scared to try! They also had a 'laboratory' back by the cafeteria kitchen where a mad scientist sawed real cow bones and let you touch 'brains' and other gross stuff. It was the best night of the year and something EVERY kid looked forward to.
The kicker... I went to a Catholic school - St. Thomas Aquinas. I have such fond memories of the Halloween parties my school held down in the basement cafeteria. It was a night to let loose and have fun - to just be a kid. I sincerely hope my own children get to experience something similar in their own schools as they grow older. For to be cheated out of something so full of wonder, that sparks the imagination of young minds in such a unique way, would be a true shame.
Long live Halloween in our schools!