“I want my mommy” and “I’m a scaredy cat” were some common statements from Pepperell Primary students on Friday, as they entered the Dark Dark Library led by media specialist Tony Pope.
Pope is also the longtime media specialist at McHenry Primary. For 29 years, he said, he has cut out the lights to the media centers and filled them with all that is spooky and frightening in the run-up to Halloween. This is the last year that Pope will put on the haunted showcase, as he will be retiring at the end of the school year.
“This is just a Mr. Pope thing,” he told a group of second-graders who stood outside the doors that were blacked out with plastic coverings over the windows and had caution tape cutting diagonally across the frames.
Once inside, Pope took students on a tour around the media center, with the oohs and aahs abundantly being sounded out. The students came across the candy corn corner that had a cauldron of fire, which one student naturally asked if it was real.
“Do you think I could put a real fire in the library?” Pope asked.
After moving through the patch of glowing pumpkins, with brightly colored lights flashing on the ceiling and walls, students found a spot on the carpet in the black light area. It wasn’t long before they noticed that Pope’s hair looked quite different than it did out in the hallway. His hair and beard, which he had used glow-in-the-dark hairspray on, radiated like a neon sign beneath the black light, as did his luminous Nikes.
Pope then read three books to the kids in the dark. The first was the illustrated book “The Spider and the Fly,” which is based on an old poem from Mary Howitt to warn of the danger some strangers pose. The black and white book naturally glowed.
“It’s dinner time, and guess who is for dinner,” Pope asked the kids.
“The fly,” many replied. But others who were still fazed by the effects of the black light said, “My whole sock is glowing.”
Having to break his own rule — no writing in books — Pope unveiled two that had the words and pictures outlined or colored in with fluorescent markers, to set them aglow. While he was reading these books, his timer went off and played a creepy tune, catching the kids’ attention.
“I like the timer because it has a spooky sound,” said Parker Beech, a first-grader.
Following the black-light readings, students were given their library cards and small flashlights, so they could hunt through the dark, careful not to catch any of the spiders, ghouls or goblins lurking in their midst.
“I wish I could live here,” said Jaxon Stewart, a first-grader.