November 2, 2009


College hosts Halloween party

Students in Education Club offer alternative to trick-or-treating for children ages 1 to 12


Joe McIntyre/staff photographer
SUNY Cortland early education major Cari Scoppa gets mummified Saturday by wicked witch Suzanne Burleigh, 6, of Cortland during the Education Club’s 18th annual Halloween party at the SUNY Cortland’s Children’s Museum.

Staff Reporter

Six-year-old Suzanne Burleigh, wearing a black and gray wig, a witch’s hat and spider-web cape, smiled triumphantly over a foaming pink brew Saturday.
Burleigh announced the ‘witch’s brew’ station was her favorite at the 18th annual Halloween party put on by SUNY Cortland’s Education Club at O’Heron Newman Hall.
Burleigh’s mother Yvonne Burleigh, said her daughter brought home a flier announcing the party, from Parker Elementary School, so they decided to attend.
“We decided to get out and find something fun to do,” Burleigh said, adding her daughter loves doing different crafts so the witch’s brew station, where youngsters mixed baking soda, vinegar and food coloring, was perfect.
Natalie Tarnow, the Education Club’s co-president, said the club sent fliers to all area schools, announcing the party, which was geared to children ages 1 to 12. The day was a way for future educators like herself to get involved with community children, Tarnow said.
Tarnow, a senior, is an early childhood and adolescent education major.
“It is a way for us to get out and do a community activity with the kids. And a lot of schools don’t celebrate Halloween so this gives them fun activities to do,” Tarnow said.
Karen Hempson, the club’s advisor, said many schools have harvest celebrations instead of traditional Halloween parties. Hempson said teachers want to discourage children from wearing costumes that were gory or did not depict positive role models, so they often do not allow costumes to be worn on Halloween.
The party Saturday provided the community children with a safe outlet to dress as their heroes, she said.
Hempson said parents often tell her the party replaces trick-or-treating because of the safe, fun atmosphere and gives children the chance to wear costumes.
Hempson praised the SUNY students for their dedication to the youngsters, stressing the time the students devoted Saturday was not required as a community service component of their curriculum.
“We give them the methods, the pedagogy and the materials and they bring in the love and caring. They are all naturals with children,” Hempson said.
SUNY Cortland Crime Prevention Officer Steve Rolfe was on hand to give safety tips to parents for their young trick-or-treaters. He was also handing out DNA swab kits, which parents can keep on hand in case their child ever goes missing and they need to have a record for police files.
“We give it out at community functions and it’s a nice thing for parents to have,” Rolfe said.
But for youngsters like 5-year-old Dryden Elementary student Ben Van Sant, the day was all about fun.
Van Sant proudly handed over to his mother, Susanna Van Sant, an orange trick-or-treating bag he had decorated with a plastic eye and glitter, saying he was going to be a bandit later that night when he went out trick-or-treating.
His mother, who is in SUNY Cortland’s teaching certificate program, said the day was a way for Ben and her 3-year-old daughter Kate to have fun experimenting at the different stations.
Seven-year-old Vincent Swinnich stood in a bright orange NASA astronaut costume, an outfit his mother Janet said he had already worn many times since she bought it for him at the Washington, D.C., Air and Space Museum in June.
Becky Merritt stood dressed in a Bat-mom costume pushing a stroller with her 7-month-old twins Brett and Ashley dressed in a blue Bat-boy and pink Bat-girl costume, respectively.
Merritt said her 5-year-old daughter Kirsten, a kindergartner at Randall Elementary School dressed in a pink Supergirl costume, had picked out her siblings’ costumes.
“She likes to do a lot of activities and she loves the games and crafts,” Merritt said.


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