Wearing grins as big as a jack-o’-latern, students at Tobinworld took the school’s annual Halloween celebration to new heights, parading in their costumes and scaring the daylights out of one another as part of an improvised haunted house.
“Our kids, for some reason, get more excited about Halloween than any other holiday,” Assistant Director Tracy Weber said.
“I think what makes it fun is the trick-or-treating,” said Daniel Angerstein, 14, who described his get-up as a bounty hunter werewolf. “I like to get scared.”
Founded in 1976, Tobinworld serves students with severe emotional and behavioral problems, including autism. It currently enrolls about 285 students and draws from dozens of school districts across southern California.
For most, the party would be the students’ only chance to celebrate Halloween, school officials said. Those who showed up without a costume were provided with one.
“We go all out for every holiday because so many of our kids are from the disadvantaged community and they don’t get these things,” said Judy Weber-Israel, the school’s founder and director.
The annual Halloween bash allows students to interact with the larger school community and to build shared experiences, said Ray Hairapatian, administrative coordinator at the school.
“It is an opportunity to express themselves,” Hairapatian said.
Secondary students guided their younger schoolmates through a haunted house, installed in a basement hallway in one of the campus buildings. Ghostly video installations and spiderwebbed doorways were upstaged only by buckets of fake blood tossed about as guests tried to escape.
“All the people to get dress however they like,” said Joseline Rodriguez, 14, who contributed a steady stream of high pitched screams as part of the student-devised haunted house. “The spirit of it is so fun.”