Whether to celebrate Halloween is mixed bag at local schools
Halloween celebrations differ from school to school in Park Ridge and Niles. | File photo
Updated: December 24, 2012 1:16AM
PARK RIDGE — At Maine South High School in Park Ridge you won’t find students dressed as witches, superheroes or their favorite “Vampire Diaries” character this Halloween.
Since 2005 the school has had a ban on Halloween dress-up. The no-costume rule was the result of students choosing “inappropriate” ways to celebrate the holiday, namely female students wearing clothing that did not properly cover their bodies, Assistant Principal Rose Garlasco said.
“The one that stands out was a group of students who dressed as French maids,” Garlasco recounted. “It was like, ‘Wait a minute.’ ”
Now seven years into the ban Garlasco doubts there are any plans to reverse it anytime soon as such a discussion has not been pursued.
“I have a hunch we will stay with the rule of no costumes,” she said.
But just a few miles away, at Maine East High School in Park Ridge, it’s Halloween as usual, with students still allowed to tap into their inner-ghoul or most-admired celebrity.
“The only restriction at East is that they ask students to choose costumes that are in good taste and appropriate for a high school setting,” said Dave Beery, spokesman for Maine Township High School District 207.
Masks or anything else obscuring a student’s identity are prohibited, he explained.
That rule holds true for most schools which, across Park Ridge and Niles, generally decide without a district-wide mandate how their students will — or will not — celebrate Halloween.
In Park Ridge-Niles School District 64, a ban on classroom treats and snacks has removed candy from Halloween festivities for the past several years, but schools can choose engaging activities if they wish to acknowledge the holiday.
“The kids have responded to that really well. They like doing activities and things that keep them involved and moving around,” Superintendent Philip Bender said.
Bender said each of the schools can celebrate two of three recognized holidays each year. The choices are between Halloween, winter break and Valentine’s Day.
At Field School, a Halloween costume parade has become a tradition, Principal Susan Walsh reported.
“The parents love it; the kids love it. Of course we hope for a bright, sunny day,” she said. “It’s short, but sweet, and it’s been a long-standing tradition.”
A costume parade is also planned at Carpenter School. Other schools, like Franklin and Emerson, host after-school festivals planned by parent-teacher organizations. Students at Franklin have also decorated pumpkins based on characters from books.
In East Maine School District 63 individual schools also determine how to acknowledge Halloween. At Apollo School in unincorporated Maine Township, for example, two celebrations were planned: a Parent-Teacher Association-sponsored Halloween party filled with games, dress-up and food on the evening of Oct. 24, and an opportunity for students to wear costumes and walk in a parade on the actual day of Halloween.
Healthy food, like fresh fruit, fruit snacks or vegetables, stand in for traditional candy.
The practice in Park Ridge and Niles area schools is in stark contrast to Skokie-Morton Grove Elementary School District 69 which ended the acknowledgement of Halloween this year by prohibiting costumes, parades, distribution of candy and any other type of celebration. Cultural sensitivity was stated as the reason behind the decision.