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Hair's an idea

School festivals replace Halloween

School festivals replace Halloween

October 31, 2003|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

Getting ready for school Thursday was a hair-raising experience for Fountaindale School for the Arts and Academic Excellence third-grader Sophie Mott.

Her 12-year-old brother held her long light brown hair toward the ceiling, gelled her locks and stuffed bobby pins, sticks, moon stones and quarters into the straight-up strands.

Across Washington County, elementary school students celebrated wacky hair, careers, fall and harvests, but few partied in the name of Halloween, a holiday that's been disappearing from the school system over the past 10 years.

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Sophie, 8, was getting ready for Crazy Hair Day, the brainchild of her school's principal, Donna Newcomer.

Newcomer said when she asked students at Hancock Elementary School a few years ago to create strange hairstyles, she found more children showed up with wierd 'dos than had donned costumes when asked to dress up around Halloween.

Newcomer said Halloween's association with devilish behavior has caused the school system to disassociate itself from the holiday.

"We can do a lot of fun things without the violent overtones," she said.

And children like Mott are perfectly content not dressing the part.

"I like it because all my friends can have fun looking at my hair and can have fun pulling stuff out of it," she said.

Maugansville Elementary School Principal Dale Garlitz said there were no plans for Halloween activities at the school Thursday, but his students did have an opportunity to dress up at a Parent Teacher Association evening "Harvest Party" a week or so earlier.

"If they wish to take part in Halloween activities then they can do it in their home environment," he said.

Students at Conococheague Elementary School celebrated Career Day on Thursday. They had the option of dressing as who they'd like to be when they get older, said the school's principal, Barbara Stouffer.

She said students learned about different careers, a lesson that is attached to the curriculum. Everything that happens in the school must be tied to the curriculum, she said.

"We have no Halloween activities. We don't have any part of the celebration of Halloween," she said.

Teachers don't keep students from drawing such scary symbols as jack-o'-lanterns, but the Halloween theme is not encouraged overall, she said.

Garlitz said, "We tend to stay away from calling it Halloween."

At a Fountaindale "harvest party," a third-grade class, most with their hair dyed, spiked or sprayed, munched on brownies and chips that were served on pumpkin- and black cat-decorated plates.

They watched "It's the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown." Students were told to compare and contrast the animated show to its book, which they read earlier in the week.

Schools are closed today, a professional day for teachers.

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