Homecoming has long been a staple of not only the Unionville High School experience, but also the American high school experience. Often documented in movies and television, the traditions associated with homecoming have become ingrained in pop culture. The first homecoming was held in 1911 at the University of Missouri, and it was originally a weekend to welcome back and recognize alumni of the institution. Homecoming has always had strong ties to football, and the weekend is usually centered around a football game.
In the past hundred years, the event has expanded, and typically, the week or weekend of homecoming is full of a variety of activities, like football games, dances, and parades. At Unionville, our homecoming traditions include Spirit Week, a pep rally, a football game, the nomination of a homecoming court, and a dance. While to some these activities may seem cheesy or unnecessary, ultimately, they are a fun way to bring together the Unionville community, and they should be continued and celebrated.
School spirit perennially runs high during the week leading up to homecoming, and there is really no other time of year when students are more proud of their school. Homecoming unites students behind a shared Unionville identity in a way that very little else does. Maybe it’s the shedding of our egos to participate in Spirit Week or the intense desire to beat Kennett in the homecoming game that brings out the passion in students, or maybe it’s just the group mentality of the cheers at the pep rally. Whatever it is, it seems to tap into the most energetic and spirited side of students. Without homecoming, we would never get to see that side of students, and we would never get to see all of the impressively tacky spirit week outfits.
Homecoming is also a great opportunity for students to enjoy themselves during a stressful school year. High school, especially at a school as exemplary as Unionville, is full of pressure and stress from day one. Students are involved in AP courses, sports, clubs, and other extracurriculars, which can make each week feel like an endless grind. Homecoming gives students something to look forward to and offers something different than just a regular week of school.
Despite the overall happiness associated with homecoming, every year there are those who disparage and criticize the traditions, writing them off as silly or beneath them. Unfortunately, it is inevitable that there will be students who consider themselves too cool for dressing up or going to a dance, but that shouldn’t stop others from enjoying the fun that homecoming brings.
Like most things in life, homecoming is about as fun as students decide it will be. If students decide to go all out for spirit week and cheer as loudly as they can at the pep rally and football game, they’ll usually have a great time. If they set out not to enjoy themselves, however, they will probably not have a good time. At the end of the day, it’s those student’s who’ll stick out at the pep rally for not wearing their grade colors.
Although high school is rarely like the movies, and the rigid caste system of football players, cheerleaders, and everybody else is pretty far from reality, we can still embrace homecoming as a traditional marker of American adolescence and accept it, even with all its corniness, because at the end of the day, it creates good times and enthusiasm among students.