The John Shields Family Fall Festival Is Back!

     John Shields Elementary School will be hosting their annual Family Fall Festival which will be run by volunteers from Kaneland High School and the Parent Teacher Organization (PTO). This will take place on Sunday, Oct. 17, to allow students to have fun outside of the classroom by having fun activities to enjoy that they don’t usually get to in the school setting.

     The festival is a celebration of the upcoming excitement of Halloween and the fall season. In this celebration, the students play games, have fun raffles and do an annual trick-or-treat walk, but some of that is changed this year due to COVID-19. 

     Assistant principal Brian Zerfas has been working at John Shields for the past two years and is excited to see the festival making a comeback.

     “We did not have [the festival] the last couple of years due to COVID, so I am looking forward to seeing all the families enjoy this event once again,” Zerfas said.

     The festival will be run by the PTO of John Shields and will have the help of many Kaneland High School students, who have chosen to volunteer for volunteer hours. 

     Parent and PTO member Amy Woods is the coordinator of the festival and is looking forward to the event, even though they won’t be doing what they usually do in the past years. 

     “We’ve taken the concessions aspect out of the event as well as changed some of our games that involved food,” Woods said. 

     The fall festival has been a tradition the school has done for the past seven years before the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic. In past years, they allowed parents to bring fun and creative treats for the other parents and students to enjoy during the trick-or-treat walk.

     “Due to COVID and other reasons, we have removed the food component of the event, so there will not be food for sale as there has been in the years past. We are also changing the typical treat walk to have non-food treats as parents typically bring baked goods for that activity, which is not possible this year,” Zerfas said.

     What usually happened during the trick-or-treat walk was that the students walked around in a circle to music and when it stopped, they grabbed a spot and if their number was called, they would receive baked goods. But instead, they will be getting fun prizes instead of food. 

     But even though they won’t be having the treat aspect of the festival, they will be allowing the students to wear their Halloween costumes as they celebrate the upcoming holiday. Being able to wear costumes is one aspect of the festival that will not be taken away.

     Zerfas was excited to find out that the PTO would be continuing the tradition of the costumes as he hoped that the students would have fun. 

     “The PTO thought it would be a fun and safe event for the John Shields’ families to be able to wear their costumes and have fun with their schoolmates,” Zerfas said.

     Woods knew that it was her duty to make sure that all of the students had a good time at the festival, even though parts of it would be taken away. 

     “The students love dressing up, and it’s great to see all of their personalities and interests displayed,” Woods said.

     The PTO are the ones organizing the event, but they won’t be the only ones helping out with the games and raffles. The Kaneland High School students who have chosen to volunteer will be helping out with the games, concessions and raffles as well as set up and clean up. 

     Sophomore Alyssa Almaraz will be one of the volunteers helping to set up the festival, guide the games and clean up once the festival is finished.

     “I volunteered so that I can be more involved in the school’s activities, and it is also helpful for volunteering hours,” Almaraz said. 

     During the festival, it is mainly volunteers helping it go along smoothly, even though Woods was the main coordinator for the festival. Almaraz is one of the many who have volunteered for the hours and to be involved.

     “The event is not possible without the help of our high school student volunteers as well as our parent volunteers. We’re excited to work together as a team to put on this fun event for the students,” Zerfas said.