Modesto-area schools mark Halloween in all sorts of ways

naustin@modbee.comOctober 30, 2012 

— Ghosts, superheroes and princesses still parade through elementary schools at the end of October, but more each year must mask their true selves as literary characters or other scholastic iterations. Others fall into autumn festivals or make hay about harvest time.

Face it. Not everyone gets into the spirit of Halloween.

One of the more novel takes on a dress-up day was at Creekside Middle School in Patterson, which held "Wear an Idiom Day" on Tuesday.

Kids were told to "go out on a limb" so no one would feel "like a fish out of water" during the lunch period. "You can be a fly on the wall even if the cat's got your tongue. Check yourself; you might have ants in your pants. We've already let the cat out of the bag, so don't let sleeping dogs lie," urged one teacher's e-mail.

The day, organized by English teachers Jason Williams and Sheila Caton, made hands-on, literal fun out of learning those odd, old phrases that trip up English learners and youngsters alike.

"Students have been learning the many parts of figurative language for a week," Williams said. Idiom Day gave them a chance to demonstrate their knowledge and creativity for a fleeting moment of fame and a passel of prizes.

Kids were all over it like white on rice. Student Anna Xu had a fishing pole and a sign with ZZZZ (catching Z's). Maria Guzman carried an umbrella with paper animals hanging from it (raining cats and dogs).

Grown-ups thought it was the bee's knees. Vice Principal Toney Henry even wore a bee costume (busy as …). Principal Shawn Posey literally wore many hats. Science teacher Tom Niblett suspended clouds and lightning over his head (under the weather).

Here is a smattering of other school events in the area:

• Beard Elementary will celebrate for a good cause today. Students will parade against cancer. Those who pay $1 can wear a costume. Parents are invited and, weather permitting, a teacher will sit in the walking circle center and for $5 take a pie in the face. All proceeds go to the American Cancer Society.

• Fremont and Fremont Open Plan will have a Harvest Parade today.

• Keyes Elementary School will hold their Pumpkin Run today, with each grade level's five fastest boys and top five girls running a mile through the streets of Keyes and ending back at the school and the annual family barbecue. The barbecue this year includes a college tailgate event and pep rally. Each class represents a different college or university, with students performing class cheers during the pep rally, as a way to promote going to college.

• Keyes to Learning Charter held a Fall into Books celebration earlier this month, a carnival-type event with book-linked activities and students dressed up as favorite book characters.

• Students at Sacred Heart School in Turlock will celebrate Literary Character Day by dressing as a character from a favorite book, an author or historical figure today.

More traditional haunts still mark the hallowed holiday in all its gory glory. Others bring out the community to cheer on its young spooks and heroes.

• Modesto High choir, band and Performing Arts Academy held a Monster Mash on Friday, complete with haunted house and carnival.

• Fairview Elementary kindergartners will have a parade today during recess.

• Hughson Elementary kindergarten through third-grade classes, along with the principal, will parade through town today in costume. "The streets are always lined with pretty much the entire community," said Hughson Unified Superintendent Brian Beck.

• Gustine Elementary students will parade around town today, as well. Tonight, band-bedecked locals can stop in at the Gustine police station, where Chief Doug Dunford has transformed the building into a haunted house.

While marking Halloween at schools can sometimes be tricky, the treats that suffuse its celebrations help keep 52,600 candy firm employees working, according to the U.S. Census Bureau.

Better stock up.

The bureau also notes a potential pool of 41 million trick-or-treaters (kids age 5 to 14), could be knocking on the nation's doors tonight.

Bee education reporter Nan Austin can be reached at or (209) 578-2339, and on Twitter, @NanAustin.

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