Oct. 26—ARMOUR, S.D. — For a few hours Saturday night, part of Armour High School will transform into a spooky scene, rife with gravestones, dressed-up ghouls and even a creepy doll or two.
Though frightening at first glance, it's all for a good cause and a little bit of fun. Volunteers at the school will welcome members of the community to walk the halls of the school Saturday evening, Oct. 28 — if they dare — in an effort to raise money for the school music department's planned trip to Kansas City this summer.
Heather Harnisch, band director for the school, said the project has been held for about three years and was started as a combination of fundraiser as well as to give middle schoolers something extra in which to participate.
"My goal is to give the middle schoolers something to do. We put it on to give them something to attend," Harnisch told the Mitchell Republic recently.
The haunted house is actually part of the school building, and guests will get a tour of decorated hallways as well as the library, where Harnisch and other volunteers, made up mostly of parents and fellow teachers, will construct an array of eerie scenes. Volunteers are expected to don costumes and bring the spirit of Halloween alive for students and community members alike.
It's an experience that's designed to be as fun as it is creepy, Harnisch said. The frights aren't too intense for a family experience, and students as young as fifth grade can take in the experience on their own. Younger students can visit if accompanied by an adult.
"It's probably a little more subdued than other haunted houses. I use the library and one long back hallway of the school and set up some scenes and scares," Harnisch said. "Younger kids can come, I just like to say with an adult because I don't want to scare your child and you not know about it."
Volunteers will have to improvise a bit this year due to the expected cold arriving by Saturday evening. High temperatures are forecast to be in the 30s that day and there's a chance the area may see its first snow of the season. Because of that, the haunted house event will move its waiting area from outside the school to the inside so volunteers taking tickets can stay warm and visitors won't have to stand in the cold for their turn to enter.
There is a $5 admission fee to get a tour, and the money raised will go toward a group trip for the music department at the school. The group, made up of about 43 students, will get a chance to go to Kansas City to take in a number of sights and events. That includes a Kansas City Royals baseball game, the National World War I Museum and Memorial, a dinner theater performance and the SEA LIFE Kansas City Aquarium.
In the spirit of other similar trips not uncommon at other schools across the state, the May excursion should be a great chance for students to visit a larger city when they might not otherwise have the chance to do so.
The haunted house event has become a big part of making trips like the one in May possible. Harnisch said the proceeds of one haunted house event usually brings in enough to pay for one member of the music department to make the trip.
The evening is just one fundraiser the music department holds to bring in money for its trips. Music department students are also currently selling Dimock Cheese, which also tends to be a successful venture. Harnisch said several students have already sold out their original allotment and have asked for more slips to continue selling.
But the haunted house in the hall of Armour High School remains a popular part of the project. Harnisch said some of the younger students have asked if she planned to host the event again this year.
And, Harnisch admits, she and the volunteers enjoy it as well.
"We usually have a lot of middle schoolers show up, and they keep asking me if we're going to have it again this year, so I feel they're excited," Harnisch said. "And it's fun. I enjoy it."
The haunted house event begins at 6:30 p.m. Saturday evening and runs to 9 p.m. at Armour High School.