Kurtz and Shoquist embrace creativity and the Halloween spirit


Molly Baldino

Teachers Tiffany Shoquist (left) and Corinne Kurtz help students create Halloween costumes during flex period on Wednesdays.

Spencer Pogue, Annabelle Cutrer, Danielle Middleton, and Hannah Rabasca

For students looking to get into the Halloween spirit, history teacher Corrine Kurtz and art teacher Tiffany Shoquist are bringing creative flair and enthusiasm to their upcoming flex offerings called “Witchy Wednesdays,” which will give students a chance to create Halloween costumes for themselves. While this is only the second year of this particular flex offering, the tradition of coming to school dressed in costume on Halloween is timeless.

Faculty departments have held competitions trying to outdo one another with elaborate costumes. The guidance, history, and physical education departments in particular were competitive with each other at various times over the past decade, but as that tradition began to fade, Ms. Kurtz and Ms. Shoquist joined forces, and their competitive natures came out, as they sought to outdress the rest of the school — sometimes together, sometimes on their own.

“No one can beat me,” said Ms. Shoquist, who came into school last year dressed as Nosferatu, the ghastly vampire from a 1920s German horror film of the same name. “I feel like [that] costume was pretty unbeatable. And it was pretty easy to throw the actual costume together, because it was all about the makeup, which is always fun for me.”

Last year, Ms. Kurtz wore special effects makeup and fake blood to walk the halls dressed as “Nightmare on Elm Street” villain Freddy Krueger. 

Both teachers insist on wearing homemade costumes, which is what inspired them to share their enthusiasm with students in the first place. 

“I prefer to cobble things together, go to the thrift store, things like that,” said Ms. Shoquist. 

“I love theater and I love costumes, and dressing up and being scared is fun. But I also understand it as Samhain, so this is also a major holiday,” Ms. Kurtz said. 

The Celtic festival of Samhain dates to 2,000 years ago, when people would wear costumes and light fires to fight off ghosts. Eventually, Pope Gregory III renamed it to All Saints Day, and moved the date to Nov. 1. 

A love of all things Halloween is not the only quality that unites them, however. Ms. Kurtz and Ms. Shoquist both grew up in rural communities — Ms. Kurtz in rural Pennsylvania, and Ms. Shoquist in Montana. 

“Costumes were centered around being able to bundle up,” said Ms. Shoquist. “There were no ‘cute costumes.’” 

When asked about their own Halloween traditions, Ms. Kurtz shed light on ‘corning.’ “You shelled corn, because there would be all this leftover corn in the field. And this is stupid now that I drive, but you would chuck the corn at cars when they went by.” 

Now as adults living on the Island, Ms. Kurtz and Ms. Shoquist enjoy heading into the mass of trick-or-treaters converging on Williams and Church streets. They believe the real test of their creativity lies in the unveiling of their costumes to the general public. Teenagers and adults alike should be on the lookout for Ms. Kurtz and Ms. Shoquist if they want to see these Halloween fanatics in action.

When asked what antics she had in store for this Halloween, Ms. Kurtz said, “I like to prank teenagers, so watch out!”