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For some pupils, Fright Fest a scream

The halls of the media center were dark and eerie with just a glimmer of light lapping from beneath the door. A low murmuring voice could be heard from within. Then came a blood-curdling scream followed by creaking chairs and waves of nervous laughter.

It's that time of year again. Yes, the ghoulies and ghosts are out and about.

At Weightman Middle School, that means it was time to focus on the horrifying tales from the likes of Edgar Allan Poe and Bram Stoker during the annual Fright Fest held this past week.

Media and reading specialists are always looking for innovative ways to get their pupils into the media center, says Michelle Ray, the reading specialist at Weightman. And setting the scene for Halloween with a few hanging skeletons, flickering jack-o-lanterns and a mad scientist reading Dracula by candlelight is a sure fire way to catch the interest of the younger set, even those with a short attention span. Throw in a few well-timed screams, said Ray, "and you'll have them glued to their chairs."

This is the third year for Fright Fest at Weightman, although the tradition has been carried on at schools throughout the county for about a decade. Ray depends on the help of others: media specialists Glen Hall, Marilyn Byrun and assistant media specialist Ginny Gude, who dressed in Halloween garb and lent their voices to reading a few terrifying tales.

"We wanted to do more oral reading with the older kids," Ray said. "Usually the schools focus on that more with the younger grades _ we forget that storytelling and listening is real important for the older kids, too."

Eighth-grade students were first to attend the fright festivities last week and shared their thoughts over lunch in the cafeteria.

"I thought it was pretty cool when they screamed. They scared the heck out of everybody," Joey Howard said.

Michael Eberon said he thought the costumes were cool. "Especially the witches with their pointy noses," he said, "I like Edgar Allan Poe's _ he's cool, too."

Robin Stringfield said she thought the whole thing was childish. "The stories were kind of lame," she said. "I only liked The Black Cat because I like Poe."

"Well, I thought it was fun," said Jessica Hood, "It scared me. When they screamed, I screamed."