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Expecting A Late Night And A Sugar High, Local Kids Want A Day Off After Halloween

A petition for Palm Beach County public school students to get the day after Halloween off has gotten more than 11,000 signatures. A 13-year-old seventh grader from Boynton Beach started it.

On a school night, Nicolas Ayala's curfew is usually 9:30 or 10 p.m.

"But on Halloween, it's different," he said.

Ayala, 17, is a junior at Ronald Reagan Senior High School in Doral. On Oct. 31, he usually stays out until 1 or 2 a.m., trick-or-treating and hanging out with his friends.

When Halloween falls during the week, that means a tough next day at school.

"It's really hard to get up at 6, because our school starts at 7:20," he said. "We're getting like four hours of sleep and then trying to pay attention in school. It's not that easy."

So Ayala joined a national trend in starting an online petition asking his school district, Miami-Dade County Public Schools, for a day off on Friday.

It doesn't even have to be a freebie, Ayala argued: There's already a teacher planning day scheduled for Nov. 4 in Miami-Dade. Why not move it up? In less than a week, his petition got more than 150,000 signatures — of course, not all from local students.

Ayala was impressed.

"I find it super cool how strong social media is," he said. "A small little voice can turn into such a big audience with so many people."

The website Change.org is now hosting thousands of petitions with more than a million signatures pushing for classes to be canceled all over the country. A petition for a day off in Broward County has more than 82,000 supporters. Two targeting Palm Beach County schools have around 10,000 signatories each.

The school districts weren't swayed. Spokespeople for the Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach districts said schedules are created far in advance, and they can't be changed unless there's an emergency. School will go on.

Credit Jessica Bakeman / WLRN
Credit Provided by Tony Alvarez
Provided by Tony Alvarez
Sisters Lexi and Madi Alvarez, above, in their living room in Boynton Beach. Below, as a hippie and a zombie bride for Halloween last year.

Lexi Alvarez, a 13-year-old seventh grader at Woodlands Middle School in Lake Worth, started one of the Palm Beach County petitions. Hers has more than 11,000 signatures. The first comment on the page is from her 11-year-old sister, Madi: "I need sleep after Halloween."

Their mom, Jackie, signed the petition, too.

"Typically, it's a very late night. Kids are excited counting their candies, having fun with their friends," Jackie Alvarez said.

She said taking a day off is better than "checking in late, being super tired because you don't get much sleep and on a sugar high. It's not the best for the teachers the next day, either."

Lexi is looking forward to trick-or-treating in her Boynton Beach neighborhood, but she hasn't decided on a costume yet. She likes to challenge herself to put a costume together at the last minute — maybe even two.

"Sometimes I change my costume halfway through the night, … so I can go around again [and] get more candy," she said, laughing.

Her sister, Madi, though, has a plan. She's going as Nick Jonas.

Jessica Bakeman is senior editor for news at WLRN, South Florida's NPR member station. Previously, Bakeman served as WLRN's education reporter for four years. Bakeman was awarded the 2020 Journalist of the Year award from the Florida chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists.