December 7, 2023

Mrs. Maynard's AP environmental kids put together our annual cemetery of extinct species.

For years, Safe Halloween has been an event delegated to the clubs and faculty at High School East. However, this year, our beloved student and faculty body took on the challenge of administering and hosting the event this past Friday, 10/27.

Safe Halloween is a memorable experience for many students in the Half Hollow Hills school district, with many of our own students attending the event when they were younger. Essentially, the idea was created by high schools to provide a protected area where children can “trick-or-treat” without the fear of harm coming their way. Parents feel relieved not to have their children go out alone during nighttime with no supervision, primarily for elementary-aged children.

At High School East, the children and their parents would walk along a “Halloween path” and have the ability to go into each classroom. The clubs that participated would decorate their classroom with a different theme. This year, High School West had a “Halloween walk,” but instead of decorating the insides of classrooms, clubs decorated classroom doors and entire hallways. At the end of the walk, in the cafeteria, there were carnival games set up by the clubs who were participating and a dance party. High School East had hosted it for many years and asked if we wanted a turn to host it this year, according to Dr. Catapano.

Our school’s various clubs, including Tri-M, SEC, Robotics, Blue Notes, National Honor Society, and Key Club, participated to help make this event successful. Many clubs collected candy for community service to ensure we wouldn’t run out during the event. According to 12th grader Andrew Grant: “I have seen many students from all grades bringing in candy throughout the past few weeks. Many of the clubs that I am in have been working really hard for the past two to three weeks to pull this event off.” In addition to collecting candy, many of them also participated in the event, setting up booths with games and activities.

Each club chose its own theme and activities to do at its booth. For example, at the Science Honor Society and Women in Science/Engineering booth, Mrs. Tjersland and the members of the two clubs set up games involving “mad scientist spookiness.” The Tri-M Honor Society planned Toy Story-themed games and “hit the spider.” With all the various activities, the school only hopes to bring joy to every kid regardless of their interest.

In the past, the HSW Tri-M Honor Society has sent student volunteers to create their own booths at High School East’s Safe Halloween, and several students reported a sense of being overwhelmed by the sheer amount of little kids all over the place. “The classrooms were filled to their max [maximum] capacity, and it became difficult to manage with so many kids coming in and out. But, I greatly enjoyed my experience volunteering, and it was completely worth it,” said junior Allison Park. Many students also expressed their love for dressing up to see the kids happy and how it’s overall a great experience to volunteer. 

Mrs. Madden, Ms. Lislevatn, and Mrs. Arabian could be seen throughout the English wing feverishly decorating the walls and ceilings Friday afternoon after the 9th period in preparation for the arrival of community families. Students from multiple clubs, including Key Club, the Social Studies Honors Society, and others, crowded the halls with tape and decorations in hand. Spooky Halloween-themed music could be heard coming from the classrooms, helping to establish the holiday mood.

“It was really impressive to see the time and effort given by our high school students to transform the hallways of West into a fun and welcoming environment for our district’s youngest. To be honest, I’m not really sure who had the most fun!” said Mrs. Arabian.

This will be the first time in Hills West history that we are hosting such an expansive celebration; many of the teachers who have taken the initiative in the planning of this event, like orchestra conductor Mrs. Romeo, had students drawing posters and contributing to the decorations whenever time was found, during class, or after school. 

Theatre West and Thespian Society hosted a “meet the characters” Photo Station where they did a meet and greet with the kids in their costumes. The GSA hosted a coloring station table where kids could color or take a coloring sheet of a pumpkin or an inspirational quote design such as “ It’s cool to be you”

“I loved watching the Theatre students interact with the young people in costume – it was so heartwarming to listen to them chat and see how their eyes lit up when they took a photo with the characters from the play!- Overall- it was a really great event filled with positivity!” said Ms. Ievolo, the advisor to the Thespian Society and co-advisor of the GSA with Mrs. Saleem-Brennan.