For many years now a Halloween dance has taken place in the barn. Wearing a costume is optional but most people come wearing something funky, beautiful or amusing. The dances are totally organized by students, while staff serve as chaperones who are willing to lend a hand when asked but do not affect the way the dance is run.
Every year the ambiance is unique: the decorations are different, the music chosen by the DJ is different, and the people attending are whoever wishes to come. On the other hand firm traditions have evolved over the years of which I will name just a few. The age range of the kids is from five to twenty, and they all observe and comment on each others outfits, join in the dancing and participate in the Limbo Contest. It is so lovely to see how kids of all ages and sizes attempt to pass under the pole without touching it or falling, until the two who hold the pole are down on their knees and all but one person manages to get through it.
This year it was Ansel who was grinning with happiness when his nine year old brother Leander hugged him in delight. Another tradition is to have prizes for all kinds of things like scariest costume, most original one, best dancer, and more. Each winner gets a fun gift and wild applause and good natured taps on the back. I for one was horrified when these “competitions” were first introduced, but the kids love them and it seems that no hard feelings happen or bother any of the kids, so this tradition is here to stay.
Kids these days like their music loud, very loud. I myself am bothered by loudness, and I was very touched when the DJ came over to me to ask me if the volume was too high for me. Often the younger kids are bothered as well, and compromises are made with the hope that all will be able to enjoy the dance. (This year one four-year-old had to leave early because of the volume, but all the rest remained.)
The whole event was exuberant, and fostered a sense of caring and community.
The dance lasted from seven to ten, at which time the organizers sent me home, refusing my help, saying that it was their responsibility to clean up, not mine. I came home elated by what I experienced with these students, many of whom came to SVS as young kids and have grown to be amazing teens: they are good organizers, they know how to work hard while having lots of fun, and above all, by never losing sight of the big picture, see to it that the event is a success.