The sophomore haunted house amid COVID-19 recovery


Thea Dai

Students and teacher pose in front of a spooky backdrop at the Halloween event (From left to right: Maddie Tsang, Sophia Trabanino, Reece Sharp, Julian Cortella).

Christmas may be approaching, but a good throwback to Halloween is a great way to prepare for the holiday season. Satisfy your festive spirit by learning about the production of the sophomore haunted house, which happened outdoors and after school this year.

With COVID-19 and new budget restrictions, the school administration and the sophomore class had to pioneer new ways of approaching the event. Instead of the Lower Gym, the event was hosted outside the Upper Gym, and instead of a haunted house, activities like pumpkin bowling were featured. Spearheading the process was this year’s sophomore Halloween Haunt Committee: Krisanna Gunsagar ‘24, Greta Bollyky ‘24, and Vivi Sun ‘24. Only being elected in mid-September, they had about a month to navigate through multiple challenges, such as time and budget constraints.

Changing COVID-19 guidelines obscured the final outcome of the event, even in the days leading up to it. “The school and even Mr. Mayfield was kind of unsure about how [the event] would go because restrictions keep changing,” Gunsagar recalled. On the week of the Halloween event, the Lower Gym was even cleared for use—but not in time for the sophomores to plan an entirely new event. “All we knew,” Bollyky said, “was that we weren’t allowed to have it be normal.”

The event was hosted from 7:30-9:00 pm, rather than during school hours, which also posed challenges for the Halloween Haunt Committee. “A lot of people will go home and have to come all the way back if they want to attend, so we’re expecting a much lower attendance,” Bollyky admitted. From an attendance form the committee sent out prior to the event, a total of 127 students RSVP’d, “Yes,” and 33 students replied, “Maybe”. The later start time also impedes an opportunity for a larger budget: “It’s after dinner, so we won’t make a lot of food sales.”

The fight for a larger budget has been central to this year’s Halloween planning. “Our budget is really, really, really small. Compared to other past few events we’ve had this year, it’s significantly smaller,” Bollyky said. “We started with $300 and we had to bargain for $500, and that’s really not enough for what we wanted to do.” The limited budget has forced the Halloween Haunt Committee to procure supplies in creative ways. “We have a neighborhood watch thing where people are giving decorations for free,” Bollyky explained. “So I’m searching all the websites trying to find decorations.” A few days before the event, Gunsagar said, “I feel like we’re going to do our best, but it’s not what we had envisioned.”

The restrictions in location, budget, and timeline led to multiple changes in the production of the Halloween event. “[We asked] the sophomores if they [could] bring [decorations], and we wanted to give each advisory a little bit more freedom in what they could plan because we’re in such a short time crunch,” said Bollyky. “We just decided that it would be better if we plan everything and then just allocate jobs on the night of,” Gunsagar revealed. “We were playing on it being a more interactive thing.”

Despite all the challenges the sophomores faced, the Halloween event still remained a fun one—especially for students in younger grades. “I really enjoyed the ping pong and dart games. It took a lot of time, but it was worth it because we got a lot of candy,” exclaimed Chloe Culver ‘28. Ana Kelleher ‘27 also said, “It was fun,” and Jada Williams ‘27 too “liked the candy.” Dahlia Schroeder ‘28 echoed the same sentiment: “It was amazing.”

The sophomores were able to quickly alter the Halloween event under unprecedented conditions. “It was really nice to help produce the Halloween event this year,” said Eman Hussain ‘24. “I’m excited to see how it turns out next year, especially if all the COVID-19 restrictions have been lifted!”