6th Graders Reach Back into History on Halloween


The halls of North Salem MS/HS were filled with some of history’s most memorable contributors on Halloween – from Alexander the Great to Cleopatra and Spartacus – in honor of the 38th Annual Halloween Historical Costume Contest.

“The project and contest have been a tradition for sixth-graders in North Salem for many years,” said social studies teacher Jim Savarese. “It was designed as an opportunity to celebrate the holiday in a meaningful way and has since become a PST [problem-solving task], as students are asked to persuade a panel of judges why they belong in the Historical Hall of Fame.”

Sixth-graders first presented their creative costumes and why they belong in the Hall of Fame during their individual classes, and then met for a grade-wide assembly at the end of the school day. Five finalists in three categories – Best Costume, Best Presentation and Total Excellence – were chosen to present to the judges.

“It’s an interdisciplinary project – English and social studies – and students work on their persuasive writing, research and public speaking skills, in addition to learning about the historical importance of a particular character,” explained Savarese.

Students shared interesting facts about their characters during their presentations. Said Paul Wu, who won Best Costume for his portrayal of Marco Polo, “I traveled from Venice to China on foot.”

Spy Virginia Hall, portrayed by Ellen Herlihy, wasn’t shy about sharing why she believes she belongs in the Hall of Fame: “I’m great at what I do and I take so many risks,” she told the judges.

Isabel Dundon, as Cleopatra, also emphasized, “I took a lot of risks to save Egypt,” and added her multilingual abilities to her impressive credentials.

The judges were impressed with all 15 presentations and the creativity students used in making their costumes. Jake Torres used a sled to create a breast plate for Spartacus, while Kiera Donovan’s Queen Elizabeth I character had a tablecloth sewn to her elaborate skirt.

Congratulations to all finalists and the winners in each category:
•    Best Costume: Paul Wu – Spartacus
•    Best Presentation: Eric D’Amato – Christopher Columbus
•    Total Excellence: Ava Jolley – Archimedes