OGDEN -- Halloween wasn't all about candy and treats at some Ogden schools this year -- it was about healthy snacking and a little bit of reading and writing education.
Students at Taylor Canyon Elementary and Heritage Elementary spent their party or fall festival time enjoying healthful snacks rather than candies and soda.
Taylor Canyon Principal Jeanne Clifton approached her school's PTA president and asked if they would incorporate at least one healthful snack into the Halloween parties this year.
Her school has been approved as a Gold Medal School, a program sponsored by the Utah Health Department to cut down on obesity in children.
Schools are rated as bronze, silver, gold or platinum judging by how much students track their healthful eating habits and exercise.
One of the goals of the program is to not offer food as incentive, Clifton said.
She felt making the Halloween parties more healthful would be a great idea and had the support of the teachers and PTA moms.
"There's no reason why you can't have a party with healthy things," said mom Kathleen Lang.
She said the head room mom in her daughter's class had worked very hard to put together a great party.
Students snacked on bread sticks and marinara sauce, aka "bones and blood," and got pencils, play dough and fruit roll-ups to take home instead of a bag of candy.
Lang said the students didn't seem to notice the difference. "They were thrilled with whatever they got. They will get enough candy at home."
In Brenda Perry's first-grade class, students bobbed for apples and drank juice boxes, plus received some candy. Perry said most of the candy came from kids who brought it to share with the class, not knowing about the healthful snack plan.
Perry admitted it was kind of hard to come up with healthful ideas, but she still believed it was a good idea.
"Sometimes it's hard to find Halloween-themed things that aren't junk food."
That's one thing the state PTA has been trying to get the word out about as well. News releases and memos were sent to local PTAs and to store vendors to encourage the sale of healthful snack choices this Halloween season.
At Heritage Elementary, most of the Halloween festivities were held at a carnival Tuesday night and most of the events Friday focused on the fall harvest.
Third-grade students brought vegetables to school Friday, spent the morning decorating what they brought into some kind of character and then wrote a story about the character they created.
Students got to share their stories and their vegetable creation in a parade at the end of the day.
Kade Salvo was thrilled with his potato man that he named "Electro-Man." He told an elaborate story of how Electro-Man got his superpowers and came to be wearing a cape with so many pipe cleaners coming out of his head.
"I really like the freedom to make up our own creations and then make up our own story," Kade said.
Teacher Amy Shirts smiled as her students talked about their creations in great detail. She has been doing the fall festival day for several years and said it has been greatly successful.
"We always have a nutrition unit in October, and it goes right along with the fall harvest," Shirts said. "The kids love it."