Spooky Enthusiast


Courtesy of Google Images

For many Lake Ridge students and teachers, Halloween is a favorite time of the year.

The holiday season is now in our midst, bringing religious, historical, cultural, and spooky celebrations all across the country. Starting quite recently, stores everywhere are carrying their holiday specific decorations, and as of right now, Halloween has taken over. Almost everywhere people go, customers can find skeletons, pumpkin lights, and other decor for the season. Halloween music is playing, costumes are being prepared, haunted houses and pumpkin patches are everywhere, and Ashley Hicks, an AP Human Geography teacher, is thriving. Full of costumes and scary movies, Halloween has always been Hicks’ favorite part of the Halloween season.

Since she was a little girl, Hicks has loved Halloween, whether it be the candy, dressing up, or the fun films. Growing up in a small town, the fall season, and especially Halloween, was a time for her community to get together and celebrate with their one another.

“Halloween was always when everybody would go downtown in May Pearl. We would go trick or treating together and it was a big community thing. They always decorated Main Street with a bunch of fall stuff, and you  got to hang out with your friends, dress up, and stay up late, even if it was a school night. You just have a good time and it just reminds me of being a little kid and there’s that cool community factor.” stated Hicks.

Sprouting from her nostalgic memories, Hicks’ enjoyment of the holiday is thanks to the love she had for it as a child. This love from years ago has stayed with her and transcended into her adult life. Though many people stop celebrating Halloween once they become adults, Hicks and her husband both enjoy all the festivities, just a little differently than when they were younger.

“My husband and I always dress up, and at first he was like, ‘This is the worst.’ We don’t really do couples costumes, though. We just do whatever we want really. But we also always decorate our yard even though we don’t get trick-or-treaters because I live out in the middle of nowhere. But we’ll dress up and then we’ll go downtown like I used to when I was a kid because his aunt lives in town and they always have a Halloween party. So that’s always the best part is we just get to dressed up, have fun, and go hang out downtown.” stated Hicks.

At Lake Ridge, Hicks teaches one of the freshman social studies classes, AP Human Geography, as well as World Geography. AP Human Geography covers the patterns of humans and the way people use and affect the world, and coincidentally, the culture unit lines up in perfect time with Halloween and the rest of the holiday season. Hicks enjoys giving her students holiday related assignments to help them have fun while learning about the culture unit.

“It’s super easy to bring Halloween stuff into culture because we’re talking about how different groups of people around the world celebrate fall holidays. So we do a couple different things. I do a Halloween culture ‘door,’ where they’ll make posters about how they celebrate a fall holiday in Mexico, or what do they do in the U.K., or other countries. And then they’ll make a little door and then people go trick-or-treating to each door to learn about different cultures. We also just finished up population trends. And so I try and incorporate some Halloween stuff. I did  a world graveyard because one of the things I teach is how do people in different stages of development die in different countries. And so we did world graveyards where they were decorating for Halloween and making headstones. So I tried to find little stuff like that. But I think my class lends itself to learning about Halloween because we’re talking about people. So I always incorporate it.” stated Hicks.

Like Mrs. Hicks, many of her students greatly enjoy celebrating Halloween. In a conversation, three of Hicks’ freshman students, I.T. Omo, Kathy Robalino, and Anya Khavari, shared with each other how much they enjoy Mrs. Hicks’ festiveness during the Halloween season as well as throughout the entire year. Robolino  described how it makes her very relatable, and it’s one of the qualities that makes her so connectable with her students.

“She is a teacher that I personally, find really easy to talk to. You can tell her anything and she’ll listen,” stated Robalino.

Khavari agreed with Robalino, expanding on the fact that, since the holiday brings Hicks so much joy, it makes her and the other students feel very welcome in her classroom and allow them to connect more easily with her.

“It’s awesome when she wears her orange lipstick, and it looks so nice with her red hair. Since Halloween is her favorite holiday, I feel like you can really tell how happy she is. And also for us, she can tell that school can be really stressful. And not only is it for Halloween, but I think that for every holiday, like Christmas of Thanksgiving, she’ll do something really fun and it allows us to enjoy what we’re learning.” stated Khavairi.

Being her favorite holiday, Hicks enjoys bringing some of the spooky season into other parts of the Halloween season. During Christmas, Hicks sprinkles Halloween into it, inspired by the famous Tim Burton Film, A Nightmare Before Christmas.

“For my Christmas tree I do Nightmare Before Christmas. I loved that movie when I was a teenager and around that time it was probably the only thing Halloween that made me think, ‘yes, this is it!’ because I loved Tim Burton. And so now I have spiderwebs on my christmas tree, and pumpkin lights and then my tree skirt has little spiders on it. So I do that, and then my stockings are Nightmare Before Christmas, and my husband is super cool because he just doesn’t care.  It would be really hard if he was like, ‘This is dumb why are you making Christmas scary.’ So that’s some things I do, and then I love fall, I got married in the fall, so this is my favorite time of the year. And then pretty much after Christmas I’m done.” stated Hicks.

Growing up loving the Holiday, Hicks has always found joy in spookiness of October 31st. One of her fondest memories with her younger brother came from trick-or-treating as a kid, and helping to protect him against anything that may scare him.

“You know when you’re little, it’s the coolest thing because you get to be someone else. When I was a teenager, I kind of got out of it because I was too cool for that. And I think the reason I like it so much as an adult is because it’s just nostalgic to me. And I feel like a lot of people don’t really like Halloween as much anymore. So I think I kind of fell out of it and then when I moved back to May Pearl I really got back into it again.” sated Hicks.

Of course Hicks doesn’t keep up the webs and lights the entire year, but when it comes to that time, she’ll enjoy the time as much as possible. Excited for this Halloween, Hicks hope that others will also find the joy in celebrating Halloween, whether that be by carving a pumpkin or taking their children out to trick or treat. Everyone has a holiday they enjoy more than another, and though for some it may not be Halloween, Hicks thinks it would be great for people to just give it a chance and enjoy spooky season while they can.

“So people who aren’t into Halloween, get into it, it’s super fun. Hand out candy, dress up, put up some pumpkin lights, and decorate your house so kids will want to come and trick-or-treat at you house. Just keep the spirit alive. It’s a really cool holiday that I don’t think many people think about, some people just put out a bucket of candy and go to bed. So just get into it it’s fun.” stated Hicks.