Every October, children, teenagers, and adults alike begin counting down the days until Halloween. Even though Halloween was on a school night, it didn’t prevent Notre Dame Preparatory students and faculty from celebrating. Halloween at NDP was a fun and successful day filled with creative costumes, treats, and good causes.
Before diving into how the NDP community celebrated, it is important to understand why Halloween exists in the first place. Social Studies instructor Dr. Eric Shuler explained how Halloween’s history can be traced to the early Roman empire.
“Going back to Roman times a lot of people gave up their lives for the faith,” he said.
Dr. Shuler noted how “All Saint’s Day” came about so that people could remember the faithful and those who died for Christianity.
He added, “The middle ages added on this All Souls Day’ celebration to remember those of our loved ones who are still in purgatory and pray for them.”
Soon the two days of celebration were closely tied together, as Dr. Shuler explained.
“All Saints Day is an Old English “All Hallows Day” . Hallows is just an old English word for ‘holy’ which is what ‘saint’ means. And the eve before that is ‘All Hallows Eve’ or Hallow’s Eve, Halloween.
As for the tradition of trick-or-treating, Dr. Shuler said, “people would go around door- to-door in early modern England asking for food. They would be given soul cakes, and they would pray for the souls of people in Purgatory of those who had given them the soul cakes.”
Soul cakes are small circular cakes sometimes containing different spices.
According to Dr. Shuler, the holiday eventually reached the United States when “Irish immigrants in the 1700s brought some kind of celebration with their Catholic faith over to the U.S., and then in the twentieth century became rapidly commercialized.”
Even after the early twentieth century, Halloween was still changing. As Dr. Shuler recalled from his youth, “it was very much frowned upon for high schoolers and even middle schoolers to go and trick or treat.”
This year, students showed off their crafting skills by using basic clothes to create original costumes. Specifically, many girls wore T-shirts with leggings and shorts, and then decorated the shirts to turn them into comfy costumes. Students and faculty also saved money by using their own clothes, and then added accessories to create their desired looks. These accessories ranged from face makeup to a spatula.
To make Halloween more fun, many students and faculty participated in group costumes with friends.
Freshman Sabrina Wetzler appreciated how people encouraged her to dress up so she could get “into the spirit of Halloween,” and she liked “how welcoming everyone was.”
One group of students dressed up as different characters from the popular children’s franchise Winnie the Pooh. Another group of girls dressed up in matching Dr. Seuss “Thing 1” costumes with different numbers for each girl. Also, sports teams frequently dressed up in group costumes as a fun way to bond and stand out as a group. For example, the girls varsity volleyball team dressed up as characters from The Little Mermaid; seniors were Ariel, juniors were Flounder, sophomores were Sebastian, and freshmen were Ursula. The history department joined in on the fun by dressing up as Saturday Night Live skit characters.
While there were multiple group costumes seen around campus, there were also individual outfits that were just as unique. Senior Amelie Young went all out by dressing head-to-toe in “scuba gear.” When asked how she did it, she described painting and glueing soda bottles together to create an oxygen tank. Other costumes included Lilo and Stitch, famous movie characters, and real life occupations, such as doctors and athletes.
Treats ruled throughout the day. Seniors were rewarded with a “Senior Surprise”, provided by the Mother’s Guild, which included Chick-fil-A, cupcakes, donuts, and candy. Halloween-themed music played outside the Center of Mission and Ministry as seniors munched on their treats, stopping for the occasional photo.
Senior Trevor Gannalo was happy with the treats: “I liked the candy. It added to the Halloween aesthetic.”
However, one of the best things about Halloween at NDP was the amount of money, $1,140, raised for Scottsdale Training and Resource Services (STARS), NDP’s non-profit charity selected for October. In order to wear a costume, students had to donate a minimum of $5.
“STARS serves the Scottsdale community to provide day services to adults with special needs,” said Leslie Gjerstad, NDP’s Director of Christian Service Learning. “This non-profit agency provides outings, art classes, and vocational resources for these special adults in our community.”
All in all, Halloween was a time of bonding and joyful spirits. It’s not every day that students can toss their uniforms aside, so when there is an opportunity to help a good cause and have fun while doing it, NDP students will surely take advantage. While their childhood memories of Halloween may differ from what students do now, that does not mean they can’t have fun.
As Wetzler said: “Even though we are in high school, we still have those little childhood moments.”