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Carroll County classes come together for a pre-Halloween trick-or-treat at Gateway School

Instructional assistant Kelly Rumbaugh greets Carroll Springs fifth-grader Sarah Wahman in the hallway at Gateway and Crossroads School in Westminster Wednesday, October 30, 2019 as the school hosted a trick-or-treating event for students from Carroll Springs and the PRIDE program at Friendship Valley Elementary School.
Instructional assistant Kelly Rumbaugh greets Carroll Springs fifth-grader Sarah Wahman in the hallway at Gateway and Crossroads School in Westminster Wednesday, October 30, 2019 as the school hosted a trick-or-treating event for students from Carroll Springs and the PRIDE program at Friendship Valley Elementary School.

The hallways were strung with balloons and the doors were decorated with ghosts and ghouls at the Gateway and Crossroads School in Westminster on Wednesday morning, ready for a group of visitors in costumes.

A day before Halloween, a Friends for Life trick-or-treat celebration was held for the second year at the school. Lauren Ricketts and her experiential education students at Gateway planned the day, inviting students from Carroll Springs School and PRIDE (Program to Reduce Incidents of Disruption in Elementary schools) students from Friendship Valley Elementary for classroom trick-or-treating and themed activities.

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In the gym/cafeteria, several stations were set up including cupcake decorating, pumpkin decorating and crafting sensory bottles, which are full of liquid and drifting items like glitter or water beads. The bottles can help kids calm down and self-regulate emotions.

Dressed in costumes, Joanna Lippy and Destini Knous helped run the sensory bottle table. The two tubs of water beads on the table were irresistible to several of the younger students who had fun plunging their whole hands in.

Owen Flanary and Megan Glass were two of the experiential education students who helped plan the activity and spent time finding the right ingredients for the sensory bottles and baking cupcakes so visiting students could decorate them.

Flanary said he would like to continue to work with kids with special needs, which he has been doing for several years. One of his favorite activities was attending Carroll County’s Outdoor School with some students from Carroll Springs, a day school for special education students and those up to age 21 with multiple severe disabilities.

Ricketts said her students are learning communication skills and problem-solving from day to day. Gateway is the county’s alternative high school. Crossroads is an alternative middle school on the same campus.

Classrooms up and down the front hall decorated their doors with Halloween flair. Inside, students from Gateway and older students from Carroll Springs paired up to give out trick-or-treat goodies. The trick-or-treaters could choose between candy or a non-food item like a sticker. Turnout was larger this year as more students from Carroll Springs were included and the FVE students were invited for the first time.

Nick Nauman, a student in Carroll Springs’ post-secondary Learning for Independence (LFI) program and instructional assistant Andrew Brklich started out decorating a pumpkin with paints, choosing colors and the shape of the eyes that gave it a fierce and spooky expression. When the younger trick-or-treaters arrived in the classroom, he and the Gateway students worked together to hand out treats.

Earlier that morning, Kayce Batchellor, Declan Browning and Hunter Gneau were some of the students who helped set up the classroom and fill the goody bags.

They agreed that the activities were a nice change from their normal classroom work. But Batchellor said it’s valuable to spend time with students who communicate differently than she does.

Browning said he was glad they were doing the activity for kids who didn’t have as many chances to participate in Halloween activities.

At the end of the day, Sara Curran came to pick up her son, Tommy, a student at Carroll Springs. His costume was a crab, and he and his dad worked together to make his mobility aid into a steam pot, complete with balloons as bubbles and a tin of Old Bay seasoning. The costume will get another use on Halloween night when they trick-or-treat in their neighborhood.

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