Gabby Lamboy & Hana Mahmutbegovic
The crowd roars and rumbles. The stadium is packed with high schoolers cheering under their masks. Clad head to toe in neon clothing and glow-sticks to boast pride for High School North, the student body is ready to dive headfirst into the first homecoming after the Covid-19 pandemic.
The transition out of quarantine-clouded school has been unprecedented, to say the least. But Homecoming this year is unprecedented as well, as it is acting as an outlet for spirit after the rocky year we all went through. Everyone who experienced the redundancy of day after day online can speak to the bland taste of the school year in its lack of pep rallies and school spirit that homecoming famously brings every October. Not only did the student council pull off an awesome pep-rally and football game experience for North’s student body, it also took on the task of making the homecoming experience more inclusive overall by implementing the concept of ‘Knights of the Round Table’ once again.
Spirit Week, Pep-Rally, & Football Game
“To me, homecoming is kind of like an embodiment that shows how spirited our school can be,” said student council Vice President Megan Lee. She continued to explain that due to the rigorous and demanding academic workload in WWP, it is easy to forget what school spirit means to the students of North. With an outlet like homecoming, students are provided with an opportunity to express school spirit, whether that be with the incredible hallway decorations or the wave of neon fans cheering in the stands at the football game. This year, though, homecoming is different than most years — with a modified pep-rally and the struggle to make the annual spirit week activities Covid-safe, students ended up dressing up for red carpet day rather than a homecoming dance, and ended up scoring most of their ‘Spirit Points’ in gym class instead of at a normal pep rally.
Covid, Setbacks, & Struggles
What many Knights didn’t realize was the challenge of working around Covid, and how it provided plentiful setbacks, rejections, and resolutions that shaped the outcome of homecoming. Student council President Kirthi Chigurupati let us in on a little bit of the struggle. “It has been difficult, I’m not going to lie,” stated Chigurupati. “Probably over a hundred hours have been put in for this, and to be honest, we faced a lot of rejection, speaking particularly to the dance and the pep rally.”
With submitting around twenty to thirty pages worth of proposals to admin, and receiving the dreaded rejection stamp mere days before the spirit events, the E-Board and the rest of student council has faced a lot of “no’s.” Lee said, “Unfortunately this year we couldn’t do the full blown-out homecoming because Covid restrictions made it kind of difficult to get everything done.” Although there were many obstacles with the canceled dance and modified pep-rally, student council and the E-board ultimately pulled off a homecoming to remember. “This year’s homecoming represents a return to normalcy because we had such a weird past two years,” said Chigurupati, “Having something like this to unite us is really nice.” From decorative walls, to class competitions and the vivid, city-inspired spirit week themes, High School North was getting pumped up for this school year.
Knights of the Round Table
Last year, North implemented the more inclusive concept of Knights of the Round Table, challenging the heteronormative tradition of a homecoming king and queen. Unlike the homecomings in past years where the student body elects one male and one female to represent the title of ‘homecoming royalty,’ last year, student council introduced the new concept of nominating fifteen candidates and selecting five to take home the crown. Choosing these five individuals from the student body not only challenged past traditions by creating a more inclusive environment but also established a representation of the school and the people that are a part of it.
As homecoming came to its close, the neon fans began their slow shuffle out of the stadium. As they exited, they were carrying their fading glow sticks, snack wrappers, and the unmatched experience of a homecoming that brought new challenges and rewards alike.