By definition, 'homecoming' is the annual return to one's school, usually for a gathering with alumni. In today's world, however, high school celebrations of homecoming focus more on the current students than the alumni. In fact, a whole host of traditions have developed that involve the popular football game, dance, and homecoming court.
As a student, before you get to homecoming you must first survive Spirit Week. This is a week dedicated to crazy behavior and outlandish costumes amid random hallway decorations. Most places have a theme for each day. For example, our themes this year were Marvel Monday (a.k.a. wear tights and a cape day), Tikki Tuesday (find something floral from that vacation you wish you never went on), Wacky Wednesday (dress as if you were about to be committed to an insane asylum), and Theta Thursday, which was really Toga Thursday but no one wanted to admit it.
This year we saw some inspiring costumes, including a toga made out of Winnie the Pooh bed sheets, several men in dresses, and one person who simply taped a sign on his shirt each day to correspond with the theme.
Page One photo by Allie Vugrincic
Making up Kennedy’s 2012 homecoming court: Back from left: Greg Mulvey, Alec Rossi, Michael Sajnovsky, Nick Averback, and Anthony DiPaolo. Front from left: Laurencia Lee, Danielle Covelli, Angelene Coates, Mia Misocky, and Kate Groner. Sajnovsky and Coates were crowned king and queen.
Also during spirit week you have the unique opportunity of listening to the homecoming court give speeches which are meant to draw laughter and amazement from the crowd. It is a well-known fact that the best speech wins the crown. In my four years of high school I have seen speeches sung, rapped, pre-recorded, and pulled out of numbered envelopes. This year someone ended their speech with a miniature flash mob to the popular "Gangnam Style," which featured all of the boys on court and a handful of students in the audience, including someone dressed as a giant banana.
When all is said and done you leave the speeches even more confused about who to vote for than when you entered. Friday brings spirit week to a close and you think you might finally get some rest. Unfortunately, you are wrong.
Once you make it through spirit week you have the game, where the mighty football players come out against a team that hopefully has absolutely no skill or talent. Everyone knows that it is a requirement that you WIN the homecoming game. Failure is simply not an option, as a losing homecoming game bodes ill for the rest of the season and dampens the mood of the ensuing dance.
I recall one year that our team beat their competitors with a score of 66-6. Of course everyone thought this was a worse omen than losing would have been. But hey, you can't lose them all.
Every school with a homecoming must deal with the matter of announcing the winners of the court. At my school they take care of that at halftime of the game. Each court member is announced and escorted by one of their parents across the football field. Once they are all lined up the big announcement is made, and there is crying and hugging and laughing (and sometimes disappointed fuming accompanied by angry glares).
For some reason we always play a school with a marching band for our homecoming game. The impatient band members stand waiting, unhappy that their halftime show has been delayed by our lengthy processions across the field.
With any luck at all, the game is won, and students can proceed to the actual homecoming dance. Some schools do this immediately following the game, while others will have the dance the next night. This year, for reasons unknown my school was unable to hold both the game and the dance on the same weekend. That meant the addition of more bizarre spirit week days including "crazy hat day" and "crazy sock day" to fill up the space between the two events.
Finally, after two weeks of anticipation and erratic behavior that would be frowned upon at any other occasion, students are ready for the dance.
If only it were that simple.
Getting ready for the dance, it seems, occupies more time than you actually spend there. Girls have it worse than guys, of course, as they have to make hair appointments and get their nails done and make sure that their dates are matching them properly. After several hours of preparation students are whisked away to take pictures at previously chosen locations. Then you must stand still for an unreasonable amount of time as twenty cameras flash all at once. Ultimately the pictures come out looking odd because everyone chose a different photographer to look in each shot. But hey, memories are memories regardless.
If you are lucky food is being served at the dance. If not, it is generally accepted that you will go out with your friends to an upscale restaurant and order things you cannot pronounce off the menu while people gawk at your formal attire. Then, at last, you make it to the dance.
Now I'm assuming most schools have some wonderful procession into the dance where couples pass under a flowered archway into the magnificently decorated hall. I have been to several dances like that. This year, however, a few students decided that we would do things a little differently.
At 6 P.M. on the night of the dance a group of dateless boys gathered under the awning outside of the school gym. They, for whatever reason, had decided to abandon all dignity and replace the traditional jacket and tie with floral shirts, khaki pants, and sunglasses to correspond with the Hawaiian theme for our homecoming. They remained outside cooking on a grill and retrieving pop from a cooler for the entire hour preceding the dance. Once the guests started to arrive they proceeded to give a loud and disorderly shout out to every person that passed by.
I will admit, the unusual greeting added a bit of chaotic humor to the dance, and I can positively say that I had never before seen anything quite like it.
From there on it was smooth sailing: dancing, talking, and more pictures filled the night. At last the festivities were over, and everyone returned home for a relaxing night of sleep-unless they went to the after party, but that is a completely different story.