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Oozing pumpkins take over Kilby Shores

A jack-o’-lantern with a cat face, mustache and horns is a bit unconventional, but it was the vision of a group of students at Kilby Shores Elementary School on Tuesday.

Fortunately, the third-graders did not have the wield the sharp knife to carve the pumpkin themselves — they had a high-schooler to help them.

Almost 20 Lakeland High School students in the Rho Kappa group visited the elementary school to help carve pumpkins, then stuck around for the scientific explosions that happened when teachers created a chemical reaction inside the pumpkins.

“Today is just about fun,” third-grade teacher Jessica Johnson said. “We enjoy when the Lakeland students come and work with the kids and talk with the kids. Today is about cooperation and communication. The students are great role models for our students.”

The older students worked with groups of third-graders to design the jack-o’-lantern faces, and the Lakeland students then carved the pumpkins according to the children’s specifications.

“I like helping kids, so this is a joy,” said Lakeland student Landon Wigg. “I had a lot of fun.”

The chemical reactions were created using hot water, yeast, hydrogen peroxide, dish soap and, of course, food coloring to make it more gross-looking.

The green, foamy mess came oozing out of mouths, noses and eyes of the jack-o’-lantern faces and even out of the tops of some of the pumpkins, to the delight of the students.

“This is the school I went to as a kid,” Lakeland student Jonathan Peeples said. “I like this school, because everything is so much fun. The first chance I had to come back, I wanted to take it.”

Mary Catherine Langston, from Lakeland, also said she enjoyed helping out and getting to know the kids in her group.

“I got to learn a lot about them and what they’re doing for Halloween,” she said.

Lakeland social studies teacher India Meissel said the Lakeland students helped provide extra manpower for a project that would have been difficult for the third-grade teachers to accomplish by themselves.

Plus, Meissel said, it’s good for her students and the future Lakeland family, too.

“It reminds them that you can still learn and have fun,” she said. “We get to have fun with the kids that hopefully down the road will be great Lakeland Cavaliers.”