October 23, 2018
Homecoming. A week of parades, decorated hallways, pep rallies, painted faces, spirit days, and dancing. Everyone knows and loves the week in October when Atholton celebrates Homecoming in the loudest and most colorful way possible. But does anyone actually know how Homecoming comes together every year? Who hires the DJ for the dance? Who gets all the materials for the hallways? Where do the spirit day themes come from? Here is how Homecoming came together.
A big shout-out to SGA. Without the many students and staff members who participate in SGA, there would be no Homecoming. The co-presidents of the SGA executive board, Jessie Zinderman and Rahel Petros, explained the many steps that SGA had to take to complete to get Homecoming running.
The first step lies in decorating the hallways for spirit week, and choosing the theme based on students’ votes. Petros explained what happens before spirit week even starts. “On the Sunday before Homecoming week, we all come to school in the morning, 10 A.M., and then we decorate. It is kind of hectic, but really fun. It is a really positive experience that involves a lot of the student body that may not be able to come to every meeting, but still want to help.”
Decorations mostly come from students, but the executive board SGA is able to chip in whenever resources are needed. “The money originates with the class board. When the class board is planning their hallways, they know what they want,” Zinderman said. “They ask their grade members, ‘hey, does anybody have this?’ If not, then they use their own funds from their activities. Portions from those, and events like that, go toward their own class and if there should be an added expense, the executive board can pay for that.”
The decorations used for the hallways are then torn down and are used to adorn the Homecoming parade floats on the day of the Homecoming dance. “It’s normally Friday night or Saturday morning, and once the hallways have been taken down, all the class boards scurry together to put together their float. Everyone dresses up, goes on the float, and throws candy out,” Zinderman said. “It’s just a time to get the community involved because the neighborhood around us and parents can’t come to the dance or see the hallways, but they can go to the football game and they can go to the parade.”
SGA is not the only group to participate in the parade. POMS, cheer, JROTC, marching band, fall sports, and other groups all join in. Lieutenant Colonel Reinhart, a JROTC adviser, described what JROTC contributes to Homecoming every year. “As an organization, we are the lead element in the Homecoming parade. For our students, it is a graded event. It demonstrates their knowledge of drill and ceremony, which is how to march, how to move as an organization. For the leadership, they have the challenge of having to direct their cadets. We use [the parade] internally as a competition to try to determine our best company. Whoever is the loudest and looks the best in the parade gets points toward the Best Company Award.”
There are some difficulties involved in assembling the cadets as well. Lieutenant Colonel Reinhart mentioned the challenges in parents dropping their kids off, having time to muster before the parade, and dealing with the weather on a sunny day in their formal JROTC uniforms. “But it is a good pay-off,” the Lieutenant added. “Parents like to see their cadets march, and it is quite impressive to see the units march by and do that.”
Besides JROTC, the marching band also plays a big role in the parade. “The band plays the Atholton Fight Song and also the drum cadence. They do play these all season, so they’re comfortable with it and sound good,” said Eric Posner, the band teacher at Atholton and leader of marching band. “The students march with the other Atholton groups from Hickory Ridge back to the school, performing along the way for our community.” In addition to the parade, they perform at the Athletics Breakfast on Homecoming morning, and for the residents at the Sunrise Senior Living Center, if time allows.
Marching band faces a long day of playing during Homecoming, and Posner explained how tired the students can get. “It’s a long day for the students with a lot of playing, which can be tiresome. Students are exhausted by the end of the day, but it’s always a good time.” He continued on how the weather can sometimes get in the way of playing during the parade. “In some years the heat has been an issue, but we’re hoping things cool down by October thirteenth this year! If it rains, it’s hard for us to perform because of the expensive woodwind instruments, which can be easily damaged by water.”
But despite the weather, Posner still thinks that the parade is worth it, for both the marching band students and for the people who come to see them play. “Homecoming Week is a great time for the whole school. We’re happy to be a big part of the atmosphere and provide some of the energy and enthusiasm about our great school.”
The Homecoming parade isn’t the only event full of energy and enthusiasm. The annual school pep rally is a cherished event that anyone can be involved in, even if not apart of SGA. The pep rally has traditionally been held outside on the football field in years past, but Atholton’s new administration has decided to change that. “It’s something that SGA has been pushing for a while,” Zinderman commented. “I can say that I never thought it was going to happen, but it did! So it’s going to be inside this year. All four grades, at one time.”
“It is going to be hectic,” Petros added. “In the years before us, [Atholton] has had the pep rally inside, but they also had a smaller student body. It is going to be cramped. It is going to be limited. We are going to have to see how things go. ”
While there have been concerns of overcrowding and safety hazards, Petros and Zinderman are confident that having the pep rally inside will be a better experience for everyone. “We have to figure out logistics but it is much more engaging for the student body when we are all in one room. The energy is much more lively,” said Petros.
The pep rally itself is planned to be as fun and engaging as years previous. “We try to incorporate a lot of events, and then have volunteers from the student body. You don’t even have to be a part of SGA, just a volunteer who want to participate in the games,” the co-president said. “Then we have performances, of course. POMS, dance, JROTC, cheer, and more. We are really trying to incorporate all the clubs and groups in Atholton, and make sure that they can contribute if they want to.”
Lastly, the co-presidents thanked Mr. Stuppy, the sponsor for SGA, for his contributions to the club and to the Homecoming dance in particular. “He does hiring the DJ, hiring lights, games, and we usually help him with anything that needs student input, but that’s mainly all him,” they said.
Homecoming is a special and fun event for everyone, but none of it would happen without all the many groups that contribute. So when you are near the parade, catching candy, or at the dance with your friends, just remember the many people who helped get you there.
To see more pictures from homecoming and spirit week, click here.