Hours before children across Clark County toured their neighborhoods dressed as ghouls, superheroes and pop culture icons in search of candy, many wore colorful outfits to their schools.
Most Clark County school districts allow students to dress up in observance of Halloween, as long as their costumes are not too revealing, don’t contain weapon look-alikes, or suggest gang affiliation. Ridgefield does not allow costumes because the schools do not single out holidays for celebration, officials said.
Halloween costumes caused minimal disciplinary issues Monday, said officials whose districts allowed them. In many locales, the number of middle- and high-school students wearing Halloween costumes paled in comparison to those who participated in school spirit days in prior weeks, officials added.
At Washougal’s Hathaway Elementary School, students were outfitted as monsters, princesses and Batman’s nemesis, The Riddler.
First-grade teacher Chera Thompson dressed as a red M&M. Among the costumes students wore, she liked arcade character Pac-Man the best.
“It’s just fun for the kids to take a break from the normal routine,” Thompson said of students dressing up. “They enjoy putting on the costumes once a year.”
Celebrating Halloween is a “long-held tradition” in Washougal, Superintendent Dawn Tarzian noted.
La Center also allowed costumes, though they had to fit within the school’s dress code. Elementary students were allowed to bring their costumes in a bag so they could wear them later in the school's costume parade.
Dress-up events are not rare at the high school, Superintendent Mark Mansell noted.
La Center High School commemorated its recent homecoming week with a “Cowboys vs. Aliens” theme, in which students had the opportunity to wear different clothing on different days.
“When it’s time to work, it’s time to work,” Mansell said. “When it’s time to have fun, we have a little fun, too.”
While the Camas School District does not have a policy banning Halloween celebrations, spokeswoman Doreen McKercher said she did not believe any of her district’s schools had Halloween festivities.
“For the most part we try to keep our kids focused on learning,” McKercher said. Individual schools do spirit-related dress-up days limited to school colors, she noted.
The individual schools have the option of allowing or disallowing costumes in Camas and Battle Ground, officials said.
“On the whole, costumes have not been much, if anything, of an issue,” Battle Ground spokesman Gregg Herrington wrote in an email.
The Vancouver school district told parents not to send their elementary students to school in costumes. However, the district allowed middle- and high-school students to dress up.
The reason elementary students are not permitted to wear costumes, spokeswoman Kris Sork said, was because “quite a few families from different cultures are uncomfortable with Halloween.” Most of the district’s elementary schools observe harvest festivals instead, she noted.
Ridgefield schools do not celebrate Halloween nor any other specific holiday, spokesman Eric Jacobson said.
Evergreen Public Schools did not return calls inquiring about its costume policy.
Photo editor Troy Wayrynen contributed to this report.