For Some Students, The Road To the Ignatian Teach-In Runs Through a Haunted House

Thursday, October 31, 2019
Student dressed for a haunted house

To many members of Rockhurst University’s Voices for Justice student group, the annual Ignatian Family Teach-In for Justice is a highly anticipated opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to learn from peers and put their faith into action to advocate for a wide range of social justice causes.

But getting there means raising funds, and raising funds sometimes means getting creative. That’s why members of the group this year have been getting into the Halloween spirit — not to mention makeup — and working at Worlds of Fun’s annual Halloween Haunt as "boosters," or fundraisers, to help cover those travel costs.

It’s actually the second year the group has worked at the park — each Saturday night throughout the Halloween season, they are cast as characters for a nightly parade and to work ushering groups into one of a number of haunted houses throughout the amusement park.

Each house has a different theme, and different costumes and characters associated with it. That made each evening as a booster a bit of a surprise.

“You don’t really get to see yourself in the mirror until after they’re done, it’s so fun to get to see yourself in a picture,” said LC Coldiron, a freshman Spanish and exercise science major. “It’s a blast to get to dress up with your friends.”

Once in costume, Coldiron said she had no problem getting into character — she even earned a shot at joining the professionals as a fill-in performer in one of the haunted houses, spending half of her night sawing a performer in half and the other half getting sawed in half.

“I completely lost my voice by the end of the night and I was so tired, but it was so, so worth it,” she said. “I made at least three people cry and, in my proudest moment, I made two fully grown men fall on the ground.”

Junior Allison Vermiglio said with its inescapable energy, it’s not hard to get into the experience, and she even found herself finding ways to get a scare out of guests, even in an otherwise procedural role explaining the rules to groups about to enter the house.

“I decided to hide in the bushes and spring out when people came up,” she said.

The fact that all of this is for a good cause, though, is not lost. Vermiglio said she traveled her freshman year to the Ignatian Teach-In — the experience is powerful enough that it’s worth a few late nights at Worlds of Fun and washing off the greasepaint afterward to provide that same opportunity to others.

“I want as many people to go to this as possible,” she said of why she volunteered this year.

Coldiron is among them. This year, the Teach-In is Nov. 16-18, with 25 spots available to Rockhurst students. She said she's been looking forward to traveling and the ways the experience might help her deepen her own interests and skills in social justice.

"I’m so excited to be able to learn more about these issues and being able to talk to the representatives from our state,” she said. “I’m looking forward to being able to push for changes in legislation that will help make the world a safer, happier, more just place for everyone.”