Staff Goes All Out for the Annual Department Costume Contest

From Drake’s “Certified Lover Boy” album cover to “Among Us” characters, the teachers of Portola High are famous for their annual costume contest. Each department presents a unified theme and comes together to create their costumes. 

While the world language department dressed as Dalmatians and Cruella from the movie “101 Dalmatians,” literary and language arts teacher Cale Kavanaugh became fictional soccer coach Ted Lasso and the rest of the department his soccer players. With alien and astronaut costumes, the science department stayed true to its subject, while the counselors’ fast food costumes and administration’s Scooby Doo characters also enriched Halloween on campus with high spirits. 

“Usually social studies and VAPA are really competitive when it comes to Halloween costumes,” choir teacher Adrian Rangel-Sanchez said. “Because they’re our biggest competition. Within our department, it’s really fun to plan the costumes and have it all come together, but also between departments to have that friendly competition of always trying to have the best costume.”

Rangel-Sanchez took on the persona of Captain Hook, as the VAPA department drew inspiration from the musical “Peter Pan” for their costumes. Dressing up as something recognizable would allow students to enjoy the costumes, according to Rangel-Sanchez.

“Because the musical is ‘Peter Pan,’ we’re trying to get people excited and hopefully to go see the musical when it comes out in January,” Rangel-Sanchez said.

Social studies teachers developed their costumes based on Disneyland’s “Pirates of the Caribbean” ride, each teacher assuming a role, from pirates to Disney tourists to the dog in the jail. 

Social studies teacher Shameemah Motala, who dressed as a pirate, noted that her department usually plans months in advance. They discuss potential ideas during meetings, write them down and have several rounds of voting until they narrow it down to one chosen theme, according to Motala. 

“It’s all very democratic we all talk about it — it’s very much what you would expect social studies teachers to do,” Motala said.

One difficulty that departments ran into while planning their costumes was the possibility of another department choosing the same idea, according to math teacher Shelley Godett. The math department originally planned to be fast food characters, but decided on Mario Kart costumes after discovering that the counseling department selected the theme first. 

“We’ve been talking about doing [Mario Kart] for years, because we’re a big group we’re one of the biggest departments,” Godett said, who was Princess Daisy. 

The math department ended up winning for best group costume in the staff costume contest. 

“Ms. Becerra and I, after we decided to narrow the theme down to Mario Kart, we planned a time together where we could make the carts so that they would look the same,” math teacher Crystal Le said. “I think it’s fun to create or do things outside of your content.”

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