Homecoming? Looking Back On A School Tradition


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By Ellis Henderson

School dances are some of the most anticipated events of each year for high school students across the country. One of the most widely celebrated and well-known of these dances is the Homecoming Dance. Homecoming at schools is the day where alumni and former faculty come back and celebrate the school. Homecoming hype leading up to the event takes place during the days before the actual event. Some schools extend Homecoming from just one day to an entire week, like we do at Collegiate. Usually, Homecoming is celebrated in the fall, after a Homecoming game. This game can be a soccer, volleyball, or even a basketball game, but it is usually a football game. But the third and most well-recognized part is the Homecoming Dance. The first of these Homecoming dances was supposedly celebrated by the University of Missouri in 1911, and the tradition spread quickly to high schools.

I wondered how Collegiate’s Homecoming compared to that of other schools. The first step to this Homecoming process at Collegiate is Spirit Week, as it is called here at Collegiate. I enjoyed participating in all of the spirit days during spirit week, which was Oct. 23-27. Monday was USA Day, where I wore a USA romper I had gotten from Target on sale the previous year. Tuesday was Tacky Tourist Day, where I sported my blue Hawaiian shirt, blue compression capris, and blue socks. At my previous schools, “Wacky Wednesday” was celebrated, based on a book created by Dr.Seuss. Wednesday was Jersey Day at Collegiate, which I appreciated a lot more than “Wacky Wednesday.” For that, I wore my 2015-16 Manchester City alternate jersey. From there we had Holiday Day on Thursday, but Friday was the most memorable day because of Pep Rally. If you were at Pep Rally, you may know that my varsity soccer teammates and I went up and performed a dance to Carly Rae Jepson’s “Call Me Maybe.” Friday was the end of Spirit Week, but Homecoming was not yet over.

After the Homecoming game, where Collegiate’s football team beat Norfolk Academy 42-0, the Homecoming dance began at 7:30 pm. In contrast to the school’s previous dances I have attended, this was one of the better ones to date. The live band was good and had a variety of songs this year, instead of playing old and overplayed country music. This year’s Homecoming was easily one of the best I have attended this year. I also went to Glen Allen High School’s Homecoming dance this year. After one hour at their dance, I came to the conclusion that Collegiate’s dance is better. The music was four years old and consisted of songs like “Cake by the Ocean” and “Sweet Home Alabama.” There was hardly any dancing, and it reminded me of something seen at middle school dances, with girls and boys on opposite side with a few people barely dancing in the middle. It was a weird and awkward event.

A page from the Oct. 16, 1981 Match, with highlights from Homecoming from that year.

I learned in digging up some Collegiate Homecoming history that Upper School French teacher Holly Fairlamb (’82) was on the 1981 Homecoming Court at Collegiate. I talked with her about how the Homecoming experience has changed since she attended Collegiate. She remembered what it was like. She told me that “there was no Homecoming King, only a Homecoming Queen” and “the cheerleaders led the parade in a pickup truck… and each girl [on the Homecoming Court] arrived in a convertible car and paraded around the track.” She told me about many changes that have happened since her time at Collegiate. There were two games on Homecoming Saturday back then: the boys varsity soccer team played Fork Union Military Academy in the morning, and in the afternoon the football team played Blue Ridge and won 14-13. Fairlamb loved looking back in her yearbook and recollecting all of this. Homecoming has changed at Collegiate since then. Now, we have Pep Rally during the day, and we no longer burn the opposing team’s uniforms in an enormous bonfire the night before the Homecoming game.

Featured image courtesy of Ellis Henderson.

About the author

Ellis Henderson is a Junior at Collegiate.