Around the time a person enters high school, they begin to feel silly dressing up for Halloween.Teenagers are often uncomfortable wearing costumes for the holiday with the possible exceptions of Halloween parties, taking younger kids around Trick or Treating or sporting a witch hat when answering the door to hand out candy.
Even for those that follow these stringent guidelines (and the few brave hold-outs that still Trick or Treat for the pure joy of mooching candy off of strangers), the costumes options are still limited. There seems to be an unspoken rule among high schoolers dictating that all Halloween costume selections seem to be confined to either a zombie corpse so gory that it comes with its own Motion Picture Association of America rating or a slutty bumblebee.
But how old is too old to dress up for Halloween?
Here at Chantilly some teachers push the limits of convention; they wear costumes to school on Halloween. Not every teacher dresses up.
“I like to observe,” said math teacher Stephen Blanchard. “I think its fun, but I do not dress up.”
Most other faculty members share the same opinion. “Some of the teachers get really into it, I think it’s great that they do it but I don’t have the guts or the creativity.” subschool three secretary Marlene Burke said.
While they might gain the smiling indulgence of their fellow teachers, those that dress up do so largely for the benefit of their pupils.
“I dress up for the students,” science teacher Krysten Sheidler said.
Last year Scheidler wore her pajamas to school and went as “bedtime” to the elation of her students. “They see us as people instead of just scary beings at the front of the class; it makes them laugh.”
Science teacher Linda Correll also routinely wears a costume to school on Halloween and said that doing so is a good way to show school spirit and keep students interested in class. “Students tend to get distracted around Halloween and costumes help… [to] get student attention.”
Students confirmed the teachers’ observations. “It’s nice to see the teachers on a personal level; their costumes show us their personalities… and it’s nice to shake things up” said senior Rachel Epps.
Other students agree; junior Nick Ransom felt that teachers should always dress up.
“It shows [they] like to have fun. Then they usually give you candy and that’s always a plus.”
Despite the popular support of the students, some, like safety and security specialist Bill Rowley, argue that teachers in Halloween costumes might pose a distraction in the learning environment. “In some cases [teachers] stick a cardboard box around their head with wires coming out. It’d be hard to teach like that.”
Others, like Subschool Assistant Principal Teresa Johnson, disagree with that assertion. “I don’t think it’s unprofessional at all. It brings interest to the classroom [and] the kids love it.”
Science teacher Susan Gerbasi is a devoted participant in the dress up. She has dressed up as various ocean-related things: a mermaid, a fish, an aquarium to correlate with with the subject she teaches. “I don’t really think it’s a distraction; the kids will see that we have a sense of humor.” said Gerbasi.
Some departments have a theme for their costumes; last year the math department dressed up like their colorful colleague, Stephen Blanchard.
Additionally, an annual teacher Halloween costume contest is run by Marian Patey of the English Department. Judges that represent each department judge the costumes that are prettiest, most original, ugliest, funniest, and best use of materials to name a few.
No matter who places in the contest, however, a winner is clear. A teacher that puts dignity aside to try and connect with their students rebuffs the normal boundaries of appeared or imagined apathy. Such self-deprecating dedication to the purpose of adding a little laughter to the otherwise dreary monotony of high school deserves a Nobel Prize.
Photos contributed by teachers