Spooktacular celebrations: Halloween returns to Archer

Eighth-graders+Julia+Ong%2C+Shayla+Covington+and+Callie+Roth+represent+their+grade+in+the+pumpkin+decorating+contest.+Teams+from+all+grade+levels+had+to+use+their+own+supplies+to+transform+the+pumpkin+in+15+minutes.

Photo credit: Lucy Williams

Eighth-graders Julia Ong, Shayla Covington and Callie Roth represent their grade in the pumpkin decorating contest. Teams from all grade levels had to use their own supplies to transform the pumpkin in 15 minutes.

By Lucy Williams, Staff Reporter

Astronauts traded candy with bloody brides who competed in pumpkin decorating contests against unicorns. Seniors scattered decapitated doll heads throughout the Blackbox Theatre. Mountains of candy vanished from the courtyard every few minutes. On Oct. 28, Archer’s notorious Halloween celebration made a comeback.

After the Getty Fire in 2019 and the global pandemic in 2020, Archer’s campus was shut down for two consecutive Octobers. Archer students and faculty have waited nearly two-and-a-half years to host their on campus Halloween celebration. This year’s challenge was to organize the events while abiding by COVID-19 protocols. Student Council partnered with the senior class to organize the celebration. They planned every detail of the celebration, from the decorations and supplies to the logistics of the haunted house.

“The exec board has been figuring out the logistics of creating a safe Halloween during COVID-19,” executive board member Bess Frierson said. “Halloween hasn’t happened in a while, so it’s a lot of pressure, but it’s very exciting.”

The Archer community celebrated Halloween with a half-day schedule that allowed students to attend classes and participate in the Halloween activities.

Students arrived at school dressed in costumes of all different types, keeping in mind the appropriation guidelines introduced two weeks prior by the Dean of Student Life, Equity and Inclusion Samantha Hazell-O’Brien. Homemade costumes were a popular theme this year, such as characters being created from scratch, like Mrs. Potato Head or Marie Antoinette.

“There is a sense of self-expression in the costumes,” eighth grader Caroline Collis said. “For all the artists and costume designers, [Halloween] just allows students to be themselves and spotlights on their creativity.”

Each year, by tradition, the senior class decides the haunted house theme and comes together to plan and create it. The assembled haunted house committee organized the entire venue, finding decorations, costumes and actors. During designated time slots throughout the day, grades sixth through 11 ventured through the Blackbox Theatre in groups of six to 10 to experience the doll-themed haunted house. Students who joined Archer after 2018 had never experienced an Archer haunted house before.

“Walking in I was really, really nervous. The seniors really pulled off the suspense at the start. When senior Ava pretended to get hurt, it brought up the exhilaration for the actual thing,” Collis said. “I was surprised by how well they performed the scariness with the flashing lights and especially the creepy music.”

Lunch festivities included finding the M&M in a big bowl of Skittles, the traditional pumpkin decorating contest, a fashion show, a photo booth and a candy table. Each grade had a team of a few students to represent them while participating in each of the contests. Teachers were also involved, judging the pumpkin decorating contest, giving out tickets to award spirit points to creative student costumes, and dressing up. Most teachers chose to dress up in a coordinating theme with their fellow staff members.

“It was one of the first big celebratory things that we did together as a school since we’ve been back,” English chair Brian Wogensen, a teacher of 22 years at Archer, said. “This is something on a whole different scale.” 

Wogensen said the accepting culture at Archer provides an opportunity for students to showcase their passions.

“[Halloween] is a manifestation of some of the things that I love most about Archer, which is the whimsy, and people going full- bore into something like their passions,” Wogensen said. “It’s this very accepting day where you dress up however you want. People are going to rejoice and celebrate that.”