Tetiana Lykina turned 7 on Thursday, but some M ount Nittany Elementary School teachers and classmates celebrated her birthday on Friday.
It came during the perfect time to also celebrate the school’s Autumn Harvest Festival — an event designated for students who don’t celebrate Halloween.
While the rest of the school held a costume party in their classes, 14 students headed to Room 111 for activities that celebrated fall, instead.
Principal Deb Latta said it’s an event that precedes her arrival to the school six years ago.
“Because we have a very large Russian population in (the) Boalsburg area, what used to happen is this: The typical Halloween classroom parties with scary costumes and makeup were announced to the families, and since many families objected to this kind of a celebration based on their own religious beliefs, the families would simply remove their children from the school after lunch,” Latta said. “We wanted to come up with a fun way to keep all of our families and students in our school. Thus, the Autumn Harvest Festival was created.”
It’s the only alternative-to-Halloween party celebrated at State College Area School District, Latta said.
And it included songs, games, crafts, treats, a reading session with librarian Dustin Brackbill, and a movie.
“We do it every year and it comes with a different theme,” Brackbill said. “This year I wanted to focus on imaginary creatures. So we read a book, have a movie and we asked them to create their own creatures from what we provide. It’s a fun and hands-on way to express the topic.”
They read “The Adventures of Beekle” and watched “The Gruffalo.”
Students made paper pumpkins and improvised artwork from cutout leaves, acorns and pumpkins.
Polina Safonova, 9, used a handful of cutout paper maple leafs to create a fall-themed poster. She made two maple leafs into characters she called Bob the Walking Leaf and Jerry. Arms and legs, drawn with a black marker, popped out of the leaves. It looked as though the character-created maple leafs were walking with each other through the forest.
“It’s fun to be creative and come up with something that’s not planned,” Polina said.
Fourth-grade classmate Nathan Kondratyev has been attending the event since he was a kindergartener and said his favorite activity was making a new craft to bring home each year.
Students also brought in treats that represented their heritages including a Polish bread treat called paluszki and cojiomka, a thin Russian-made breadstick.