Sweet Lesson in Service

Halloween is a sweet time of year, and I’m not talking candy.  Certainly it’s sweet when the temperatures fall below 100, even if it’s just barely in double digits.  It’s fun to hear the kids talk excitedly about their Halloween costumes and what they plan to do at the carnival.  As I wrote last week, I love the preparations for the Mystery Theater, particularly the way the “magic” happens as it all comes together.  It’s also sweet when the gardens start sprouting and autumn is in the air.  For me, the sweetest part is the way our community mobilizes to make the carnival happen.

Our APA team is at the hub of this process.  Preparations begin in early summer and continue until carnival day.  Organizers meet regularly, send lots of emails, make lists, order bounce houses, and purchase supplies.  Staff prepare food, make arrangements for the photo booth, rally students to make decorations, attend Mystery Theater practices, pull together face painting supplies, and help out with setup and cleanup.  This happens as the teachers are also teaching their classes, immersing children in all kinds of seasonal activities.

Parents play a big role in the carnival’s success.  They sign up for committees, gather raffle prizes, sell raffle tickets, bake treats, set up games, hang decorations, cover carnival shifts, bring their children to see the Mystery Theater productions, help serve food, bring in food and drink donations, and assist with setup and cleanup.

This year we have a new layer of participation from our Seed grandparents.  They have signed up for shifts, volunteered to make chili and cornbread, brought in silent auction prizes, helped out with committee preparations, and even organized their own silent auction basket full of gift cards and items that can be shared with their grandchildren. Our grandparents are a vibrant addition to an already lively community of carnival makers.

The carnival is, obviously, for the children.  It occurred to me on Wednesday, that the children, too, play a significant role in the carnival’s success.  As I walked into the 3rd/4th grade room (and later in the K-1 and 1st/2nd grade classrooms), an assembly station was set up for cake decorating.  Gloved children spread icing and added Halloween accents to cupcakes that will be used as prizes for the cake walk on Friday night.  Yes, working with all the colorful sugary ingredients is a fun experience in itself.  Even more important, through helping with such projects, children learn early on the value and rewards of service.  It’s a sweet lesson to learn when you’re young, and one that can last a lifetime.