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PALS celebrates Halloween with annual festivities

Emma Busch, Staff Writer

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Luther students and children from the Decorah community gathered for pre-Halloween fun at the first PALS event of the year on Oct. 29.

PALS is a program that pairs one or two “littles” — kindergarten through middle school-aged children — with Luther students, or “bigs,” who share common interests. “Bigs” and “littles” meet on campus once a month for two hours to partake in various activities that usually correspond with themes or holidays. Approximately 125 children and 80 Luther students are participating in the program this year. According to PALS Co-President Isabel De Ayala (‘19), “bigs” serve as mentors for their “littles” who may not have older role models besides their parents.

“It’s especially important because that child may be struggling in school or want someone for guidance because they don’t have an older sibling,” De Ayala said. “So it’s nice to have someone that’s kind of in between, which is what the Luther students are.”
At the Halloween event, PALS members decorated cookies, played board games, created possible designs for the program’s t-shirt, and partook in a trick-or-treat scavenger hunt. Most of these activities were held in the Center for the Arts (CFA), but the scavenger hunt brought them around campus. Buckets of candy were placed in buildings that they found using hints provided on a sheet of paper. Despite the cold weather, PALS Executive Board member Natalie Sandstrom (‘18) says that the scavenger hunt was one of the more popular activities at the event.

“We changed it up a bit from last year and I think kids really enjoyed it,” Sandstrom said. “That or they enjoyed the candy that came with solving every clue.”

According to De Ayala, “littles” also enjoyed face-painting and got creative with the designs they asked for.

“We had a Death Star request, a lot of spiders, [and] Spider-Man,” De Ayala said. “We also had one ‘little’ ask to be the Hulk.”

According to PALS member Tyler Johnson (‘18), he and his “little,” Brock, who dressed as what Johnson describes as an ‘army man with a Nerf vest,’ partook in the scavenger hunt and played with Nerf guns in the CFA with other “littles.”

“We fake fought each other and random kids they knew from class,” Johnson said. “They thought it would be fun to go up and down the elevator over and over again. Some other kids we were playing with would run up and down the stairs and we would meet them every time with the Nerf guns.”

PALS Executive Board member Luke Lumbar (‘18) and his “little,” William, who were paired together last year as well, spent most of their time exploring campus during the scavenger hunt and eating treats.

“William and I wanted to focus more on the scavenger hunt,” Lumbar said. “He likes to run around and explore campus. So we did the scavenger hunt and he tried [decorating] some cookies. He just slapped a bunch of frosting on top of each cookie and got very messy, but it was pretty fun.”

Sandstrom says she is looking forward to future PALS events and seeing how relationships between “bigs” and “littles” will evolve throughout the course of the program.

“That first event is always tough,” Sandstrom said. “Kids are nervous and ‘bigs’ work really hard to get to know them. By the last event though, you can see how much they’ve bonded and enjoy spending time with each other.”

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The student news site of Luther College in Decorah, Iowa