14-Year Club Participates in Revised Halloween Parade


Skyler Zur

Although the Halloween Parade had to be virtual for the fi rst time in Benjamin history, the 14-Year Club was still able to participate by recording memories and stories for Lower School students to enjoy after their walk around the gym.

Every year, members of the 14-year Club look forward to participating in the Halloween Parade at the Lower School, dressing up in fun costumes and walking around with the Lower School students; however, COVID-19 restrictions necessitated the group’s engaging in a different manner this year.

On October 20, all of the seniors who have been at Benjamin since Pre-K were offered the opportunity to stay after school for an hour. The ten seniors who chose to participate dressed up in the costumes they would have worn in the Halloween Parade and were each assigned two or three different classrooms to introduce themselves to. Junior Sydney Steinger volunteered to videotape the seniors talk about memories of their own Halloween experiences at the Lower School. 

After recording their individual contributions, the seniors went outside to the Butterfly Garden and took turns reading pages of Halloween-themed books to send to the Lower School classrooms. For the youngest grades, the 14-Year Club members selected Frankie Stein by Lola M. Schaefer. For the older students who could better enjoy a scarier tale, the group recited “Bloody Mary” by James Preller.

Although it was a different experience than they were expecting, the seniors still had fun and were able to feel as if they were really part of a special experience.

Senior Alex Kahn had been looking forward to going to the Halloween Parade ever since she was in the Lower School and remembered the seniors coming to walk with the students.

“I think given the circumstances, they did a good job,” she said. “It was really sad that we did not get to parade, but I am glad we still got to at least do something to celebrate Halloween.”

14-Year Club member Cade Odom also enjoyed the experience, and recording the videos of memorable moments brought him back to his time at the Lower School.

“I thought it was unique, and I’m very glad we did it even under these weird circumstances. My favorite part was remembering the memories we made in Lower School and bonding with my friends over Halloween. I think they did the best they could and I’m happy we were even able to bond with the Lower Schoolers,” he said.

Dr. John Peruggia, coordinator of activities for the senior class, was tasked with setting up an event aimed at connecting seniors from the Upper School with students from the Lower School.

“Dr. Sheehan and I brainstormed a bit to figure out some activities that would allow the seniors a chance to make memories and reflect on their 14 years at Benjamin,” said Dr. Peruggia. “We connect best through stories, so we wanted Seniors to have the opportunity to share some– both personal and fictional; the video approach allowed us to do this well.”

Dr. Kristen Sheehan, Head of the Lower School, wanted to create an event that would still mean something and have an impact on the Lower School students and the 14-Year Club. Having served as a teacher and administrator, she has seen firsthand how important the Halloween Parade is and what a strong connection it creates between the two campuses that do not normally get to participate in events together. 

Mrs. Kelley Hook, LS Coordinator of Administrative Services and Academic Technology, has been working closely with Dr. Sheehan to create a special and memorable event.

“During the summer, several of us met to figure out how we’d continue to present Benjamin traditions, and one of the ideas was to videotape the Halloween Parade,” she said. “Once technology worked out the live feed for Mr. Faus, they assured us they could provide a live feed for the Lower School Halloween Parade.”

Mr. Juan Carlos Fanjul, dressed as a shark, and Mrs. Hook, dressed as Jessie from Toy Story, hosted the event. Both of them introduced the event, and Mr. Fanjul spoke with Mr. Faus, who gave an opening speech. One by one, the two hosts announced every single class and picked out noticeable costumes that the students were wearing that stood out. Each grade lined up at the entrance to the gym at their given time, and socially distanced, each class walked through the gym, with students passing a camera that showed their costumes and mimicked the process of the traditional Halloween Parade. Following their walk, students returned to their classrooms to watch the live stream and hear from the members of the 14-Year Club. To facilitate a virtual parade, the Lower School set up the gym with a camera that broadcasted the event to the entire Benjamin community. This allowed parents to still take part in the celebration, albeit remotely. 

In addition to the video compilation of memories and stories, Dr. Peruggia organized for all the members of the Class of 2021 to send some love to the other campus. 

“We sent some fun Halloween cards to every Lower School class from this year’s graduating class,” said Dr. Peruggia, who hopes that the younger students will write back to their older school-mates.

Although COVID-19 has disrupted many of the normal activities and events that students have been expecting to experience, the School continues to work on creative ways to give all students a memorable year.