White Oaks Elementary Students spotted witches and ghosts in the school cafeteria, Monday, Oct. 30. It wasn’t Halloween yet, but some spooky sounds made the students clap and gasp as fellow students put on a show of musical mystery.
The advanced strings students performed a spooky song ensemble for their classmates in honor of Halloween. Many dressed up in bright colors, wigs and hats as they played holiday-themed music. Strings teacher Stephanie Trachtenberg, also known as "Transylvania Trachtenberg," has been putting on the show at White Oaks for 25 years. Another strings teacher, Jessica Even, also known as "Evil Even," has been helping her put on the Halloween concert for the past five years.
"It just wouldn't be Halloween without this," said Barbara Patty, a second grade teacher who has taken her class to the Spooky Strings concerts for 21 years. "You can just see the excitement on [the children's'] faces."
After more than 200 kindergarten through fourth-grade students filled the cafeteria, along with teachers and parent volunteers, Trachtenberg introduced the advanced strings students and their first song.
"Please sit tight because the name of our first song from the whole ghoulish gang is the 'Scary Night,'" said Trachtenberg, in her spookiest voice.
Parent volunteer Kelley Shin came to help out with the decorations and watch her son, Matt, play the cello. Shin and a few other parent volunteers helped set up the stage with decorations so the children could sit back and enjoy the show. Shin smiled as she checked out Trachtenberg's Halloween costume: a purple spiky wig with fiber optic hair, some tights with ghosts and spider webs.
"Isn't she great?" asked Shin.
Trachtenberg said each year they pick seasonal songs that she likes to call "pumpkin carols." The children stop Even and Trachtenberg in the hallways all year telling them how much they enjoyed the show and can't wait until next year.
"Everybody wants to come to it," said Patty. "But we don't have room for the whole school."
This year, Trachtenberg said the school has more strings students than ever before. About 190 total students at White Oaks take the class for about 45 minutes per week. The students begin learning the Halloween songs as part of their regular class lessons toward the end of September, and 26 lucky advanced players put on the show in the cafeteria this year.
"It's a nice performance opportunity for them," said Even.
The strings students participate in a winter concert and the Mardi Gras parade, but the Halloween performance is the big one, said Trachtenberg.
"It just gets better and better every year," said Patty.