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Reading focus of holiday fun

Danie Harrelson

— The train of costumed children on parade Wednesday afternoon at Hayden Valley Elementary School left no one behind.

Harry Potters and John Elways, Power Puff Girls and soldiers all joined the line that made its way in and out of classrooms and through the halls of the school.

And more important than the makeup on their faces were the books held tightly in their hands.

The annual Read Aloud Character Parade allows students to wear costumes to school on Oct. 31 while placing the emphasis on reading rather than Halloween, Hayden Valley Elementary Principal Mike Luppes said.

The school encourages students to dress up as characters in their favorite books for the parade.

In the past, he said, parents have held different views about children showing up to school in costume on Halloween.

The parade has alleviated parents and teachers’ concerns that students might wear costumes that were inappropriate for the classroom, he said.

“This tends to bring out a lot of creativity in kids to look for costumes that would fit someone in a book,” Luppes said. “You don’t see as many scarier costumes then.”

Third-grader Ryan Romine’s costume spoke volumes about students’ reading habits.

His Harry Potter garb showed up many times in the parade.

Romine, 9, said he wouldn’t want to dress like any other character.

“It’s nice that the book I like to read the most is what I can carry around today,” he said. “And I get to dress like Harry, too.”

Fifth-grader Mitchell VeDepo and third-graders Lindsay Parrott and Delanie VeDepo utilized Dr. Seuss’ creativity for their ensemble.

VeDepo, 11, dressed as the Cat in the Hat, while his younger sister and Parrot dressed as Thing No. 1 and Thing No. 2.

It was better to look in a book for ideas than to wear a costume for no reason, Delanie VeDepo said.

“We all liked dressing up like we did because we had fun looking for ideas for what to dress up as,” she said.

Second-grade teacher Barb Paulekas said she appreciated the stress on reading and creativity.

In her first year of teaching in Hayden, Paulekas said she was intrigued by the school’s way of celebrating Halloween by emphasizing reading.

“It was kind of refreshing,” she said. “These costumes were of the kids’ own imagination.”

Parents really supported her students’ efforts to come up with costumes that correlated with their favorite books, she said, and students who forgot to bring books were able to use library books for the day.


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