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It’s called ‘homecoming’

At D.C. public high schools, it’s a week of spirited fun

(Published November 19, 2001)


Staff Writer

Cardozo Senior High School’s owl mascot helps present homecoming queen Kiana Bibb, left, and others from the Northwest Washington school’s homecoming court to the crowd during halftime at this year’s homecoming football game.

D.C.'s Homecoming Kings and Queens

Anacostia Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Randolph Scott and Dera Mills

Ballou Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Charles Massey III and Katrina Johnson

Cardozo Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Kevin Adams and Kiana Bibb

Coolidge Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Jonathan Davis and Tikea Via

Dunbar Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Joseph Reinhart and Crystal Wilkins

Eastern Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: David Roberson and Keturah Dickerson

Roosevelt Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Richard Logan and Rhonda Green

Spingarn Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Michael Robinson and Kirby Penn

Wilson Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Justin Ajose and Robyn Everhart

H.D. Woodson Senior High School’s Homecoming King and Queen: Ontario Smith and Anita Henderson

Homecoming has always been the traditional time for high school students to show their school spirit, but more than school colors were on display this fall at many of the events staged at the District’s public high schools.

At Roosevelt Senior High School, students chose to wear red, white and blue attire for their homecoming pageant, rather than their school’s orange and blue. At Cardozo Senior High, this year’s theme for homecoming week was "United We Stand," and homecoming T-shirts included an American flag alongside the Clerks’ owl mascot.

While patriotism was an added feature for some schools’ festivities, it may also have contributed to a rise above the recent past in student participation for homecoming this year.

"It’s a very big deal to me ’cause it’s my high school," said Parris Hargrove, a sophomore, commenting on this year’s homecoming at H.D. Woodson Senior High School. "It was better than last year’s. It’s a big deal to our school."

Homecoming seemed to be a big deal at many of the 10 D.C. schools that held events during this year’s varsity football season, with "dress-up days" almost as common as the crowning event. The actual homecoming games, which several of the schools’ teams lost, seemed to be overshadowed at many schools by a whirlwind of spirited events. But that’s OK, according to organizers and participants, who say fun is meant to be the main event.

Parris, along with Lee Burton, the Student Government Association adviser for homecoming at Woodson, partnered with other students and advisers to make homecoming a fun-filled school-spirited success.

Woodson’s homecoming was the week of Oct. 15, but festivities did not take place till the middle of the week since students were preparing for the their PSAT exam. Wednesday was "Bama Day" when students dressed up in outrageous mix-matched clothing along with a parade and a karaoke event.

This year contestants for king and queen had a new set of criteria by which they were judged. Judging was done in five areas to assure that all participants had a fair opportunity to reign. "In the past only a senior could become homecoming king or queen," Burton said, which some thought may have contributed to low student participation.

In prior years the judging weighed largely on fundraising efforts. This year, though, a portion related to the incidents of Sept. 11 and patriotism was added to the list of judging criteria. Also considered were a pre-existing talent component, a question-and-answer session and an election in which students’ names were placed on a ballot and awarded a certain amount of points based on their popularity with their peers.

Burton said the new selection system for Woodson’s homecoming royalty provided "more of a balance." He said students also "got quite creative with the fundraising portion" of the homecoming competition. One student sold pickles, another started a penny drive and one even had her church raise a collection for her, he said.

While more students participated in this year’s homecoming week events at Woodson, Burton noted that turnout for the actual football game was down. He attributed the fall-off on attendance to this year’s game being held on a Friday, while last year’s game was on a Saturday. Those that were on hand witnessed Woodson’s victory over Spingarn, 26-6, followed by a celebration of red, black and green -- the school colors -- with decorations on cars throughout the parking lot.

At Dunbar Senior High School, homecoming was a big celebration as well.

"This year’s homecoming had over 2,500 fans in attendance at the football game," Assistant Principal Shawn Pelote said.

Dunbar’s homecoming week, the first week of October, was kicked off with "Powder Puff Day," highlighted with the girls playing touch football while their male classmates became the cheerleaders.

Other homecoming week events included "Spirit Day," with students dressed in red and black, the school colors, and a pep rally the day before Dunbar’s football team defeated Wilson High’s Tigers, 14-3.

Dunbar’s homecoming committee was made up of several faculty members but no students this year. Pelote said the absence of students on this year’s committee was in part caused by homecoming being so early in the football season, making time of the essence.

"We did a little something different this year," Pelote said, when it came to judging contestants for homecoming titles. "We had the contestants show their talent." Judging was based on both talent and an oratorical competition.

"Students really enjoyed themselves, they really had a good time," Pelote said.

At Cardozo Senior High School, students were well-represented in the planning for homecoming. A senior council, made up of officers of the senior class as well as representatives from homerooms, coordinated with senior class sponsor Terrell Munson to pull off this year’s events.

"Homecoming is the week that they [students] look forward to. It’s a fun-filled week. Students are very excited about it," Munson said.

This year, T-shirts were designed in commemoration of those who died in the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. "Alumni also had a set of T-shirts so that they could join with their students in showing school spirit," said Cardozo Principal Barbara Childs.

The week’s festivities included "Crazy Dress Day," "Hat Day," "Color Day," as well as a door-decorating contest. Also this year students decorated the front of the school "to show school spirit and patriotism," Munson said. Candidates for king and queen were presented to the student body to be voted upon in an election.

Roosevelt Senior High School, like Cardozo, used the "United We Stand" theme for this year’s homecoming events.

"I thought that was really great for the opening scene [in the homecoming pageant] to pay tribute to victims of Sept. 11," said Ashley Robinson, a Roosevelt student who ran for homecoming queen. "The turnout was great. It was packed. It looked like more people came out this year."

Roosevelt lost its homecoming football game to Dunbar, but Robinson said it wasn’t catastrophic. "That’s okay. It’s all in fun," she said.

At Ballou Senior High School, varsity football coach Noel Cyrus said "the turnout was the biggest one in years" for homecoming. Among the school’s homecoming events were "Spirit Day," "Cartoon Character/Twins Day," "Bama Day," "Dress-Up Day" and "Blue and Gold Day," featuring the school’s colors.

"I don’t think anybody does a homecoming like we do," Cyrus said.

Wilson Senior High’s assortment of events might rival Ballou’s. Along with the "Twins Day" and "Bama Day" rituals that others hold, Wilson had a "Little Kids/Senior Citizen Day" as well as a "Pajama Day" when students could wear pajamas to class.

Homecoming events at Wilson were organized by the senior class. "In the past, the senior class had been apathetic about planning," said senior Alison Cohen. "This year the class was much more integrated to cross class lines."

Cohen noted that her school recently lost a well-loved assistant football coach, which she said may have contributed to the team getting "crushed in the [homecoming] football game."

"But we had a lot of school spirit," she said. "It would be nice to see our football team gain more confidence. We support them no matter what."

Students at Coolidge Senior High had something special to cheer about when the Colts defeated the Cardozo Clerks 28-0 in the homecoming game.

"It was our first win in over 10 years," said senior class president Richard Jackson.

A new aspect of their homecoming was a faculty vs. students volleyball game.

"The students enjoyed that more than the faculty," Jackson said. "They [the students] won."

Copyright 2001, The Common Denominator