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Friday, March 1, 2024
March 1, 2024

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Halloween is tough for kids in rural areas; one Washougal elementary makes it all about community

By , Columbian staff writer
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A student dressed as a "creeper" from Minecraft runs in front of parents Tuesday during a Halloween costume parade at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School in Washougal.
A student dressed as a "creeper" from Minecraft runs in front of parents Tuesday during a Halloween costume parade at Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School in Washougal. Photo Gallery

WASHOUGAL — This may or may not be a big deal, but Spider-Man was spotted at a school in Skamania County early Tuesday morning. As was Godzilla. And Pikachu. And a few other Spider-Men.

Fortunately, the mixture of heroes and monsters weren’t waging war, they were parading through the halls of Cape Horn-Skye Elementary School, celebrating Halloween and showing off their costumes to teachers and parents.

“You see these different personalities come out,” said Principal Brooke Henley. “There are a bunch of kids here today who are shy any other day, but in their costumes they’re dancing. They’re in costume mode.”

Just after the morning bell, teachers escorted classes in lines through the school’s gymnasium, where excited parents lined up like spectators at New York Fashion Week.

“It’s nice that we get to do this,” said Erik Tylek Kettenburg, whose children at Cape Horn-Skye had dressed up as a butterfly and a princess. “It’s a good opportunity to see them here together with all their friends.”

Rural celebrations

Downtown Washougal, while smaller than Vancouver or Portland, still has typical door-to-door trick-or-treating and organized celebrations. Cape Horn-Skye, at 9731 Washougal River Road, is among the most isolated schools in Southwest Washington, located about 10 miles from the heart of downtown Washougal.

Low visibility and high speed limits along the scenic but winding Washougal River Road make trick-or-treating dangerous and impractical for younger children.

“Trick-or-treating out here in the country is hard,” said Henley, who grew up in the area and has two boys in middle school in Washougal. “Having celebrations and traditions at the school helps everyone make sure they feel like they’re a part of Halloween.”

Each year, Henley and other school staff establish a group costume for all staff to wear. In the past, they’ve done superheroes or different colored crayons. Tuesday, they were scarecrows.

While costumes varied among students, there was an apparent new favorite: Wednesday Addams, the infamously grim character portrayed by Jenna Ortega in Netflix’s “Wednesday.”

“Every girl dressed as Wednesday was committed to looking so serious,” Henley said. “It’s important for kids to feel comfortable in a space where they can be themselves, but even more where they can dress up as someone else and be accepted.”

Kimberly Daniels, a teacher in Washougal for over 30 years, said she wasn’t interested in picking a favorite.

“Every kid with a smiling face is the best costume ever,” Daniels said.

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