So, What Exactly is Homecoming?

Maggie McGaharan, JMJ, Author

    It’s the biggest buzz around school. You’ve heard every Harry, Pete, and Tom say this three-syllable word about a thousand times. This week is even named after it. It’s seems to be everybody’s favorite week of the school year. So, what exactly is homecoming?  English teacher, Camela Giraud, says that homecoming has existed longer than she can remember. According to Giraud,  schools have always had a tradition of welcoming back their alumni. Mrs. Giraud suggested that our director of fun, Mr. Tim Brewer, might have more information.
Less than five minutes after this encounter, Director of Fun, Tim Brewer, burst through the doors of the newsroom with energy spilling out of his pores. He did not hesitate to talk about Homecoming and the many fun events he was excited about. But when  asked him about the origins of homecoming, he didn’t know either. How come nobody seems to know the origins of homecoming? Are the origins of homecoming located in a secret file in the CIA? A few seconds of searching on Google revealed a royal feast of answers.

Homecoming was born in 1911 at the University of Missouri during a football game between the Missouri Tigers and the Kansas Jayhawks. These two teams were huge rivals, and the game stirred up a lot of excitement. Over 1,000 Missouri alumni attended to watch their team beat the Jayhawks. After the big win, students organized a dance and two tailgate parties to celebrate.

This celebratory feasting became such a popular attraction, that every year after, an important football game, students would tailgate and whoop it up. Throughout the years, many traditions have developed including homecoming court, a parade, picnics, dress-up days, rallies, and a bonfire.

The origins of how the tradition of homecoming court came into the picture still remain unknown. Still, the recognition of a student-elected court is one of the most anticipated events. Homecoming court consists of  a king and queen, a prince and princess, a count and countess, and a duke and duchess. Students vote for who gets what position. The king and queen of the previous year are expected to come to the ceremony and crown the next king and queen, however, if they are absent, often a teacher will do the crowning.

After the crowning ceremony, the homecoming court is then featured in a school parade. At ODA, the court all hops on a golf cart and is driven around the football field while the crowd cheers and congratulates them.

At ODA, our tailgate is a huge family picnic. The picnic is held in the evening before the game. See ODA Bolt writer, Drew Fineberg’s, article “We’re Hungry for Homecoming” for more details.

Dress-up days, in many students opinion, are the best part of homecoming. Dress-up days, also known as Spirit Week, is the week that allows students to dress up in wacky and fun costumes and dress wear. This year, the dress-up day themes are Nerd Day, Twin Day, Pajama Day, Spy Day, and Blue and White Day. Cassandra Ratzlaff, a junior, says, “My favorite dress-day is twin day because I like seeing the other people dressed alike.”

In advance of Homecoming, ODA holds a bonfire. This bonfire is to “fire” up kids and spread spirit. Kelli Bagwell, a junior, says, “My favorite part of the bonfire is being with friends, listening to music, watching the fire, and eating s’mores. It’s a fun time to bond with everyone and have a fun time with friends and get excited for homecoming” The bonfire is held after the volley ball game.

There is also traditionally a prep-rally held the day before the homecoming football game. This homecoming is to raise hype and encourage the football players. The cheerleaders put on a performance and there is music played and lots of energy! The heads of the school give speeches and the football players stand in a line while the students cheer them on!

Last, but not least, the homecoming dance! The homecoming dance is basically the frosting on the cake. This is what the week of dress-up days, rallies, bonfires, and traditions has built up to. The dance is kind of like a fall prom, though all the high schoolers can attend and it doesn’t matter if you have a date or not. Kimmy Comito, a sophomore, says, “I think it’ll be a fun night because I’m going with a group of my best friends.”

The tradition of having themed homecoming dances started in the 1940’s. The homecoming dances are always themed at ODA. Last year’s theme was “Candy Land”, and included a buffet that was filled with many sweet and sour treats including candy bars, Pixie Sticks, and every other candy you can imagine! There was even a sparkly cardboard candy

This year’s theme at ODA is James Bond 007. Comito says, “I like having themes for homecoming. As for this theme, I don’t really have a preference. I do think I’ll like it a little better than last year’s because it’s more serious, I guess, and seems a little more mature.”

Get excited for homecoming 2012 and party like it’s 1911!