October 29, 2020
by Dr. Bill Hudson, Head of School
I was at Home Depot a week or so ago with my husband Ross picking up a few materials for a home improvement project we are working on. What was supposed to be a quick trip turned out to be an adventure as he led me on a search for the plumbing aisle. Exasperated (and a little bit irritated) I asked him why this detour was so important. He said he wanted to purchase six feet of PVC pipe for Halloween. Still a bit irritated but now curious, I pressed further. As it turned out, he saw a device online constructed out of PVC pipe that delivers Halloween candy into the bags of trick or treaters while maintaining proper physical distancing. As head of school of MPA, I had to applaud his creativity and adherence to proper health and safety measures.
Like so much in our day to day lives, COVID-19 is requiring us to reimagine just about everything, including Halloween. Hardly a day goes by when a need arises to rethink a tradition, policy, practice, or program. Teachers, students, staff, and administrators have all become adept at holding fast to our traditions and values while at the same time making the necessary accommodations for health and safety purposes.
Our much beloved Halloween tradition, the Lower School Halloween Parade, is the latest example of this phenomenon. It is one of my most favorite traditions for many reasons, not least of all the joyfulness of a PreK-12 school under one roof. It is pure magic seeing the joy-filled faces of the older students and the excitement on the faces of our younger students as they parade through the Middle and Upper School hallways—and to have parents on campus to witness it. Not to fear, a virtual parade of sorts is taking place as adorable pictures of our Lower School students in their Halloween costumes are on display on the many display screens located throughout the building. I’ve seen Upper School students seated to watch the rotation in its entirety—staff too. Click here to see last year’s parade on campus and here to see this year’s virtual version.
Special activities planned by teachers and special treat bags prepared by our wonderful Parents Association will be a part of Thursday’s activities. Thanks to the generosity of one of our families, all students in grades PreK-4 will be decorating masks in their classrooms. Lower School students will experience the annual “Humbug Witch” story presentation, and fourth graders will carve pumpkins. In Middle School, students and faculty alike will don costumes. On Wednesday, teachers dressed up as zombies in honor of Ms. Nagle’s Zombie Apocalypse unit and today they will dress up as astronauts/Among Us video game characters in honor of Mr. Milam’s Future City theme of building a city on the moon. In the Upper School commons, the Upper School STEM Education Club put on a show with their dry ice sublimation experiment in a Jack-O-Lantern. They put dry ice into hot water, making the dry ice sublimate into carbon dioxide rapidly, thus creating a spooky smoke that brought their Jack-O-Lantern carving to life.
As Minnesota and the Midwest prepare for a surge in COVID-19 cases, I strongly encourage you to visit the Minnesota Department of Health’s webpage dedicated to navigating holidays and to follow all state and local guidelines and recommendations. Wearing cloth masks, avoiding large group gatherings, thorough hand washing, and maintaining a safe distance are all advisable this Halloween. Handing out individual treat bags has been suggested and allowing the candy to sit for a few days before unwrapping is also a good idea.
The history of Halloween stretches back in time and is connected with various religious and cultural traditions. Approaching the holiday as an opportunity to create new traditions or creatively reimagine traditional ones is one more opportunity to teach our children to overcome challenges and to model resiliency. During this these days of worries and anxieties, I can’t think of a better symbol of overcoming our fears and embracing creativity and joy. Even if it comes from the end of a PVC pipe.