LA CONNER — Things are about to get scary in the La Conner School District.

For the second year, the drama department is putting on the district’s haunted house at the Bruce Performing Arts Building.

“Last year, I wasn’t expecting it to be very good,” said junior Halen Cox, 17. “I was really surprised.”

This year, Cox is one of the students from the middle and high schools who has dedicated after-school time over the past two weeks to help decorate the two-story haunted house.

“It’s really just about making stuff look weird,” said drama teacher Lauren Hippenstiel as students last week used old costumes and props in an attempt to scare their classmates. “We roll with what we have, which is how theater works.”

Hippenstiel said she wanted to start the haunted house tradition last year because there are not a lot of opportunities for Skagit County children to go to one, especially in the area.

“This is something unique to us,” she said. “And it’s so much fun.”

In order to design the haunted house, students had to get creative, draw maps of the building and do a lot of planning, Hippenstiel said.

“(They’re) thinking three-dimensionally about how to use the space,” she said.

They’ve also learned how to improvise.

“I’ve learned how to throw things together very quickly,” Cox said. “Lots of on-the-spot thinking.”

For those who experienced the haunted house last year, don’t expect a repeat of the same experience.

“This year we’re giving people multiple choices on where to go,” eighth-grader Madoc Hiller said.

Last year, Madoc said, he joined the group because it looked like something fun and interesting to do. He also portrayed a zombie in the haunted house during the evening performance.

“I’d fall off the stage acting dead,” he said.

This year will be heavily influenced by the horror-movie genre, with monsters, maniacs and lots and lots of fake blood, Hippenstiel said.

The haunted house will be open from 5 to 8 p.m. Wednesday for Halloween. Admission is by donation of cash or canned goods.

Last year, Hippenstiel said, the club raised about $250 and several pound of food for the “We Scare Hunger” drive benefiting local food banks.

— Reporter Kera Wanielista: 360-416-2141,, Twitter: @Kera_SVH,

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