For These Students, Halloween Is a Favorite Subject

First published in the Oct. 29 print issue of the South Pasadena Review.

Everyone in Joline Zelenski’s 1st-grade class at Monterey Hills Elementary School got an A on Tuesday when they were quizzed on the topic of Halloween.
There were not enough A-pluses for some of the students who spent a discussion enthusiastically waving their hands when asked about treats, tricks, streets and houses that gave out the best candy, costumes and what Halloween was all about. Chihiro Haraguchi impressed everyone, including Zelenski, when he traced the custom of Halloween back to England.

“Where did you learn that?” Zelenski asked.
“My father told me,” Haraguchi replied.
Most of the 6- and 7-year-olds didn’t need anyone to tell them that Halloween was almost here. There were pumpkins on the bulletin boards and tiny pumpkins on desks, and two of the students had already been to Disneyland for an early celebration.
Some of the students had already carried the spirit of Halloween home with them.
At Franklin Lacques’ house, the mouth of a monster hung on the red front door. Nathaniel Unruh had paper ghosts scattered around his room. Addy Wu had come up with “potions” — jars full of colored water — while someone else had a button outside the front door that made a spooky noise when someone stepped on it.
Almost everyone said that they would be trick-or-treating Sunday in some form, and most everyone already had a costume idea — some of the costumes were already bought or were in the process of being made.
Several of the costumes were inspired by movies or TV shows — “Star Wars” and “How to Train Your Dragon” characters are popular, as is Wednesday Addams from “The Addams Family” and the titular anti-hero from “Deadpool.” One boy said he and his dad were going as football players and his mother and sister were going as cheerleaders.
The children are all wearing their costumes to class today, in lieu of a school parade.
Many of the children had a favorite place they wanted to haunt. August Gianfrancesco remembered that last year there was a house that had all sorts of colored lights, with ghosts popping up to scare the trick-or-treaters.
The kinds of treats they wanted were as varied as the kinds of costumes. Everyone had a favorite, including candy corn, M&Ms, Fruit Roll-Ups, Tootsie Rolls and Sour Patch Kids. Chocolate was a predominant theme in many of the treats.
But Jaden Ahn was having none of the sweet stuff.
He said he was going to be eating healthier, and he was going to share his candy with this brother.
Zelenski, meanwhile, has her own favorite reason to love the holiday.
“My mom’s birthday is on Halloween, so our house was always decorated,” she said. “We were the house with full-size candy bars.”