For many children, Halloween is one of the best days of the year. They get to dress up in fun costumes and are actually encouraged to eat lots of candy. Unfortunately, many students served by Communities In Schools don’t get to participate in one of the most exciting parts of Halloween: trick-or-treating. Because they live in areas too rural – or unsafe – to go from door-to-door and collect candy, or because their families can’t afford costumes, they miss out on a childhood tradition.
Communities In Schools site coordinators help students make great Halloween memories. Josh Alcocer, a graduation coach with Communities In Schools of Los Angeles, is working with City Year to plan a huge Halloween festival and pep rally at Liechty Middle School. What makes this year’s party different, though, is the incorporation of an educational angle to the festivities.
“We noticed that our students’ English scores were lower than their math scores,” he said. “So we decided to integrate an English component into the activities. For instance, we have a mad lib station, and a photo booth where students have to read and act out different actions.”
In addition to helping students learn, Liechty Middle School’s Halloween festival serves another purpose: keeping students safe. Halloween is known as a gang initiation night in the Los Angeles area. By inviting students and their families to the school to celebrate Halloween, they’re keeping people out of harm’s way.
“The school and the festival are a safe space in the neighborhood,” Alcocer said. “Kids can’t go trick or treating around here, so this is a great alternative for them.”