Why We Should Have Homecoming

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Why We Should Have Homecoming

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Homecoming. Winter Formal. Valentine’s Dance. All of these are commonplace dances in American high schools. And yet, when one examines FIS, the only dance afforded to Upper School students is Prom (which is also of American origin), and that’s only if you are in Grade 11 or 12. Why is this? 

In America, Homecoming is a staple of the school year, raising school spirit, allowing students a stress-free night, and officially kicking off the school year. It is typically associated with a Homecoming American football game, the first of the season. The entire school shows up in spiritwear to support their teams, and this often extends to the week before where they have a coordinated Spirit Week with a different theme each day. Thanks to action by members of Student Athletic Council (SAC), we did have the beginnings of a Spirit Week this year, but I believe it could be easily expanded. 

Historically, Homecoming started in the early 20th century, as an opportunity for alumni to return to their alma maters. From there, it spread across the country, gaining traction and being celebrated with Homecoming Court elections, parades, and evening dances. New tradition then expanded to include a full week of celebration which has become the spirit week we know today. Eventually, this tradition was adopted into high schools as well.

Aside from its history as a joyful celebration and opportunity to strengthen the community, it can also be beneficial for the hosting school. Homecoming provides a multitude of opportunities for the school, such as a way of raising school spirit or a source of income. Schools in the USA may charge anywhere from five to up to fifty American dollars per student who attends Homecoming. This offers a significant source of revenue which can then be used for future events, for example funding for sports teams or various school departments. 

Events like Homecoming also have sociological benefits for students. They act as “rites of passage,” says Sociologist Lynn Hoffman, and are “embedded in the high school experience”. These kinds of events offer opportunities for students to be part of a collective, and to experience high school as not just a forced regimen they are forced to take part in, but as an important part of their life with benefits they might look forward to. More than that, they offer students a chance to relax, which becomes increasingly important as schedules become more and more demanding through high school (this is especially accurate for students pursuing an IB diploma). Prom is helpful for this, but it is stationed at the end of the school year, out of reach until the bulk of the year’s stress has passed. Having a dance like Homecoming at the beginning of the year gives students an event they may look forward to to ease them into the school year.

So if it’s good for the students and it’s good for the school, then why don’t we have Homecoming? There are the standard issues raised in high school dances, with the necessity of chaperones and supervision, but I feel that there ought to be a certain amount of trust between students and their administration. If the administration would trust us, as students, to behave responsibly by giving us an opportunity such as Homecoming with the understanding that it is a demonstration of trust, then I am sure that this would be reflected in the actions of the student community. Why else would we not have Homecoming or at least a dance of a similar nature? 

I would like to clarify here. I am in no means attacking the school. As with any event that takes place on school property, the administration would be taking on a good amount of risk and responsibility. As a student body, we are very lucky to have the opportunities and events already provided to us. However, in recent years it appears that spirit has fallen. For example, students are increasingly less motivated to participate in House activities. Events like House Extravaganza, while well-intentioned, do not seem to have the intended effect on older students. Aside from a minority of high-spirited individuals, most Upper School students do not feel a sense of togetherness as a result of the House System. Perhaps an event like Homecoming would help older students feel unity and a sense of community. At the very least, it would bring them together for one night of festivity.

We have the demand. Students are in need of time to relax and socialize more than ever. Obviously, we are able to organize this ourselves when we have time, but no one has the capacity to mingle with the entire grade in one space outside of school facilitated events. It could also be easily adopted by one or more service groups who could potentially organize a theme or facilitate entry (for example ocean themed for Ocean Awareness, entry by donation to the Kalahari, etc.). We certainly have the spirit, as was demonstrated with the help of SAC at the Volleyball Boys ISST’s. The gym is already used for similar events for Grades 6-8, set-up could easily be incorporated either by volunteers or a group like Student Advisory Board. It could even be used to sponsor a different sports team each year depending on who has the first game of the year.

We are only going to be in high school once. It seems at the very least odd that in four years in the Upper School, all we have is Prom once or twice when the demand is more than there for more events of a similar nature. Homecoming is not the only possibility, but it does show just how much can be brought to the table by giving something new a chance.