While we ummed and ahhed about the cultural appropriateness of celebrating Halloween in Costa Rica, our students just went ahead and did it, having a spook-tacular time…

How, if at all, should we celebrate Halloween in a school that has 90% local students?  It’s a question that’s not easy to answer.  On the one hand, it’s a fun excuse to dress up and indulge, raise spirits (not literally), and make our minority of foreign students feel that they’re not missing out on one of their favorite celebrations.  And it’s just plain fun to see everyone’s creativity (even the morbid variety).

On the other hand, there’s the usual concerns of distraction in class, healthy snacks, students who don’t dress up feeling left out, and inappropriate costumes.  Here at Monteverde Friends School we also have to ask ourselves how much American (USA) culture we ought to celebrate and weave into the fabric of our Costa Rican school.  And how do we embrace the fun Halloween traditions without appearing to endorse the religious origins that differ from both our Quaker faith and the main religions in our community?

Haunted House for Halloween in Costa RicaOur students, however, had no reservations.  They transformed our monthly Coffee House into a full-on haunted theme.  Decorations had playful skeletons encouraging us to “Zumba like a Zombie”, and the good old white bed-sheet ghosts hanging from the Meeting House ceiling.  Many of the open-mic performers chose to sing about ghosts or haunting themes, and the evening’s highlight was a zombie flash mob performance of Michael Jackson’s Thriller.

Grades 9-12 also organized a haunted walk through the woods behind the school – the only complaint from the many children who braved the walk was that is wasn’t scary enough (the same children who were delightedly screaming or holding their parents’ hands during the moonlit walk).  Then the evening finished with an all-ages Monster Mash dance.

As a faculty we decided to neither promote nor ban costumes on Tuesday the 31st.  As it turns out, the students’ solution was perfect – we all got our dress-up and haunting needs taken care of on Saturday, so today we all just enjoyed sharing the memory of a great, appropriately-spooky Saturday night together.  Thank you, students, for your initiative, clarity and creativity.