Last year on Halloween I had food-poisoning, so I wasn’t able to participate in the school’s festivities. Luckily, my 2013 bout with food poisoning came and went a couple weeks ago (once a year ain’t bad)!
I dressed up as a pineapple and had a great time watching the big parade of costumed kids go by in our school’s assembly hall. Though 100% of the kids here are Thai, the school (well, only the international program) embraces Halloween even more than my school in San Jose does! Here, where tradition, culture, and school community are always prioritized above academics, we of course made time for witches, zombies, pirates, and candy!
Teachers and students in grades kindergarten through six all participated in a big costume contest, a parade for the parents, and trick-or-treating at each classroom. I know that my school in San Jose canceled Halloween celebrations during the school day (though luckily they still hold a really fun after-school carnival) because the admin were worried about it detracting from learning. Of course, our parade and trick-or-treating ate up 90 minutes of our morning, but Halloween put the whole school in such a great mood that our students were actually more engaged than usual. I am a very strong proponent of having celebrations in school. They’re great incentives for kids, they bring everyone together for something fun, and they can be educational. Students are a lot like little adults: offer them free food and a chance to do something out of the ordinary, and they’re automatically more interested in their obligations (think of any meeting you’ve ever attended that provided snacks)!
This school makes a big deal of Halloween, Christmas, and Valentine’s Day, in addition, of course, to Thai holidays like Loy Krathong, the King and Queen’s birthdays (which are also Fathers’ and Mothers’ Day, respectively), and a couple Buddhist holidays. And while I’ve lamented that perhaps they go a little to the extreme when it comes to taking time out of class, I think that celebrating holidays and traditions deserves a big place in education.