- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 27, 2001

No witches, ghouls or ninjas were to be found at Ketcham Elementary in Southeast for Halloween this year.
After all, it was only last month that the school lost a respected teacher and a promising student on the hijacked plane that crashed into the Pentagon.
So yesterday, instead of the traditional costumes, Ketcham students took the opportunity to imagine their own futures, and to honor rescue workers, as well as sixth-grader Rodney Dickens and faculty member James Debeuneure lost Sept. 11 on their way to a field trip of a lifetime.
Indeed, there were plenty of fire helmets, police hats, nurse caps and medical bags among the children, who were in the Head Start child development program up through third grade.
But the show they put on for parents, teachers and each other was less about costumes and trick-or-treat and more about aspirations and where they could go with study and hard work.
The program theme "What I Want To Be" directs children to think about emulating adults whose work and accomplishments they admire.
Of course, lots of students said they want to be teachers, and a few said they hope to be football and basketball players.
Choices such as astronaut, lawyer, judge, photographer and chef also suggested the children had looked beyond the boundaries of their struggling neighborhood.
"I want to be a farmer because I can get milk from a cow," one youngster said, before joining his classmates in an improvised and occasionally exuberant dance to the tune of the Sunbeam bread jingle: "I like bread and butter, I like toast and jam."
Ketcham is among hundreds of schools nationwide using the "What I Want To Be" program this year.
Begun by a Louisiana school-to-work partnership in 1998, it is promoted as a creative and constructive alternative to the usual Halloween activities. Its sponsor is the National Job Shadow Coalition, whose members include the National Association of Elementary School Principals and America's Promise the Alliance for Youth.
Joining the students yesterday was Alma J. Powell a board member of America's Promise and wife of the organization's founding chairman, Secretary of State Colin L. Powell.
After rising from her front-row seat alongside Rodney Dickens' mother whose other sons came dressed as a firefighter and a soldier Mrs. Powell told the students she had spent Thursday with the wife of the president of Columbia, "in South America."
"There, they have had a lot of problems with terrorism, too, and they have to band together to keep safe," she said.
Clearly, similar thoughts were on the minds of older children at the school who talked about their Halloween plans later, outside the auditorium.
Shamika Goodwyn, 11, was a friend of Rodney's, and was in his math class. She said she might go to a party at a friend's on Oct. 31.
"But I don't want to go trick or treating, because of what happened and the [anthrax] powder," she said.
Asked about Rodney and what he would have wanted to be, Shamika said: "He was real smart, sensitive and never got in trouble probably president."

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