La Center schools embrace Halloween as way to celebrate community spirit

By Stover E. Harger III, Columbian neighborhood news coordinator



Ghost stories

Looking for spooky tales of hauntings from around Clark County? Check out The Columbian's Ghost Stories blog at Got a story of your own to share? Email sue.vorenberg@columbian.comsue.vorenberg@col...>. Happy Halloween!

Kids say the sweetest things

La Center Elementary School students shared some of their favorite parts of Halloween with The Columbian. Here are some of their unedited responses:

“I love candy?” Miranda, 9.

“I love all candy, but I hate, hate, hate, hate, hate Halloween.” Owen, 8.

“I love being funny, with funny costumes on Halloween.” Meagan, 9.

“Im going to be a witch and an angle because im going to trick or treat at the same house that have the best candy.” Dolores, 10.

“My favorite costume is all black clothes with fake blood on my hands.” Riley, 10.

“I like Rolos, they are like little tiny balls of sugar,” Jesse, 5.

“It’s not my favorite holiday. I don’t know what I’m going to be. But I like to count my candy. I want to be a ghost, Indian, hippi,” Krista, 8.

What will you be for Halloween?

We polled three classes at La Center Elementary School about what they would like to dress as this Halloween. Here are the top picks.

Laura Tomberlin’s kindergarten class:

1st: Ninja.

2nd: Vampire.

3rd: Tinker Bell.

Kimberly Hollopeter’s third-grade class:

1st: Ghost.

2nd: Ghostface from the “Scream” series.

3rd: Zombie.

Greg Hall’s fourth/fifth-grade class:

1st: Witch.

2nd: Zombie.

3rd: Animal.

LA CENTER — If you want to see an explosion of excitement, just ask a group of kindergartners about their favorite candy.

When this question was posed last week to Laura Tomberlin's class at La Center Elementary School, the young students shot to attention.

"Candy corn," many agreed. Clinton prefers his mom's homemade cookies, while Trip enjoys biting into a chocolate eyeball "because it's round."

And some have more of a sweet tooth than others.

"My favorite candy is every candy," Hayden cheerfully yelled as the 5-year-old flung forward out of his chair and spread his tiny torso across a knee-high table.

Despite boozy adult parties and creepy haunted houses, Halloween is, at its heart, a holiday for the young. And La Center Elementary is much ado about "boo!"

The school, and the entire district, revels in family friendly festivities this time of year. Fall harvest-themed decorations line the halls and not-so-spooky creatures are displayed in classrooms. Costumed families danced with teachers and staff Saturday night at the district's first "Great Pumpkin Ball" in the La Center Middle School gym.

"Halloween is big here," teacher Tomberlin said. "They let the kids enjoy the holiday."

Superintendent Mark Mansell said it's not that his district has an affinity for ghosts and goblins -- it's that they understand lessons sometimes go down smoother with a spoonful of sugar.

"We think that laughing and learning are not separate acts," he said. "The joy of learning and having fun and being part of something bigger than yourself is part of our culture."

On the other side of the school from the kindergarten class, Kimberly Hollopeter's third-graders keep it a bit low-key when it comes to Halloween. That's to show respect to one of their peers who doesn't celebrate the holiday. The 9-year-old boy explained that his family observes the religious Feast of Tabernacles instead.

"We try to find a balance," Superintendent Mansell said. "If someone doesn't want (to celebrate) we don't want to make them feel uncomfortable."

Still, the third-graders weren't shy in sharing their costume ideas when asked. Along with the old standbys of zombies and witches, the students found inspiration from diverse sources.

Olivia, 8, is planning on being Wonder Woman, her favorite superhero. "I really like her because she has a magical lasso that makes you tell the truth," she said before thinking further. "And she's really pretty."

Mia hasn't quite made up her mind, but the 8-year-old narrowed it down to a La Center Wildcats cheerleader. But there's a macabre twist. She's wondering if her cheerleader should be a vampire or zombie. It's a choice you only really hear a kid consider in late October: Would I rather eat blood or brains?

It's neither of those for 10-year-old Adam, a student in Greg Hall's split fourth/fifth-grade class. He hopes to bite into a bar of rich chocolate. But not those small "fun size" pieces or even a standard size.

Adam is thinking much bigger.

"King Size Hershey's," he said enthusiastically.