The dead, the faeries and the superheros won't walk at WAEC this Halloween.
Warren Area Elementary Center (WAEC) has moved its Halloween parade.
The annual event won't be held during Halloween festivities at the school on Thursday, Oct. 31, rather, it will be an optional event held during the school's fall open house on Monday, Oct. 28.
"With the addition of K (kindergarten) and first grade to WAEC, I thought it was a good time to think about our traditions and what could be changed for the better," WAEC Principal Ann Ryan said.
WAEC Parent Teacher Organization (PTO) President Shelly Ristau said there were practical concerns behind the change.
"We are very limited with volunteers who have had a negative tuberculosis test and volunteer form on file," Ristau said. "Activities, with volunteers needed to work the activity, currently need to be scaled down due to lack of manpower. Combining activities may continue to be a necessity. The open house on Oct. 28 is also when all of the fundraiser pickups Yankee Candle, Oakbrook and Zapasnacks are to occur."
"When I spoke to teachers about some options, I thought it would be a good idea to ask students who had been through WAEC Halloween festivities before," Ryan said. "So we asked third, fourth and fifth graders what they thought about the parade and parties. In general, the older the child, the less interested they were in the parade and the more they wanted a longer party. However, many still wanted a parade."
So how do you include a parade without including a parade?
The school's solution was to move it. In this case, to the open house.
Under the new plan, students who wish to participate in the parade need to arrive at their classrooms at WAEC, in costume, by 5:15 p.m. The parade will begin at 5:20 p.m.
"Parents should remember students can't bring anything that looks like a weapon as part of a costume," Ryan emphasized. "No fake or real guns, knives, blades, that sort of thing, are allowed on school property regardless of the time of day for the event."
Students will parade around the classroom wing allowing other students to see their costumes before they leave the wing and move through the lobby to the cafeteria and into the gym. Weather permitting, students will exit the gym and walk down the driveway, around the back playground behind the school and through the amphitheater to a back door.
Students will return to their classrooms by 6 p.m.
"An evening parade allows students who don't wish to participate to avoid it without being obvious," Ryan said.
Family members watching the parade will be limited to the main or gym lobby, cafeteria and gym. If weather permits, families will be able to watch from the amphitheater and playground. Families are asked not to try to watch from the classroom hallway due to space concerns.
"In the past, the parade was held during school hours and many parents were never able to attend," Ryan said. "I hope switching it to an evening activity will allow more parents to be part of the fun."
Ryan admitted parking concerns are a factor at WAEC.
"We are a large school and with that comes logistical concerns," Ryan said. "During the open house, there will be a shuttle bus going through the parking lots at WAHS (Warren Area High School) to transport people up the hill to the school."
The open house falls on the same night as the Warren County School District board of directors' committee meetings at the Warren County Career Center.
Ryan said concerns over student privacy were also a consideration.
"We have children whose images cannot be released to the public," Ryan pointed out. "Families who do not want to participate in the activities do not need to do so. This way, parents can choose to participate in an event many people record and then post to the Internet."
According to Ristau, hot dogs, popcorn and drinks will be available for purchase during the open house.
Students will still celebrate on Halloween during the school day, but events will focus on the class Halloween parties and full costumes will not be allowed.
"Each classroom will hold a Halloween party," Ryan said. "Without the parade on the same day, there is less of a time restriction on the parties and things are a little more relaxed and, I hope, more enjoyable for the students.
"We told the children to wear part of their costume, or Halloween "spirit wear", like T-shirts and socks. Part of this is to make the day more comfortable. We are still holding classes that day and a child in their full costume is easily distracted and distracting to others.
"Also, I would think a parent would rather they save their costume for trick or treating. A full day at school in your costume is rough on an expensive costume."
Ryan also said the school is aware of parent concerns over the change.
"Some parents are upset by this change, however, I've had many parents happy they will be able to participate for the first time," Ryan said. "Many people can't leave work to go to a school event at 1:30 (p.m.). All we can do is give it a try."