Homecoming means more in Homewood

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Flyover banner featured at the end of the Homewood Patriot Marching Band’s 2022 halftime performance (photo by John Alford)

Russell Dearing, Staff Writer

High schools across the country celebrate Homecoming every year, but in Homewood, it means something different. 

Traditionally, Homecoming is an occasion for previous alumni to return to their alma mater (hence the name). Often celebrated over a week, events include pep rallies, parades, football games, and school dances

At Homewood, Homecoming week comprises all this and more. 

In anticipation of Friday’s football game, each school day is characterized by a dress-up theme. 

Seniors Neily Stephens (left), Susanna Sheehan (center), and Kaylin Rezek (right) dressing up for “Mathlete Monday” (photo by Kaylin Rezek)

This year, themes include “Too-Tired Tuesday” (wearing your pajamas to school) and “Disney Day” (dress as a Disney character). Highlighting this week-long celebration is a parade, which this year is scheduled for 4:30 pm on Thursday afternoon. It boasts everything from community organizations to grade decorated floats and is capped off by the Homewood Patriot Marching Band, widely revered as the largest in the state of Alabama.

Following the parade comes Friday, which is typically the busiest day of the week. To capitalize on heightened morale, the high school hosts its largest pep rally of the year, involving games, competitions, and a plethora of school spirit. Later that night, Homewood hosts its Homecoming football game, this year against area opponent Benjamin Russell. Before the game kicks off, the Homecoming court attendants are presented and the Queen is announced after being chosen by a student vote.

Concluding the week is what many students consider their favorite event: the Homecoming dance. This year’s dance, themed “Under the Sea,” will be at 7 pm on Saturday in the high school gym.

What many may not know is that each year’s Homecoming festivities are primarily organized by Mrs. Michele Cooley and the HHS Student Government Association (SGA). “Football sets the schedule for when Homecoming is,” Cooley explains. However, once that happens, planning for dress-up days, dance themes, and pep rally events begins immediately. 

Girls On The Run marching in the 2021 Homecoming parade (photo by Homewood Student Life)

“We have to organize the parade through the city and the police department,” Cooley continues, “but all of that has to be done early.” On top of that, school policy requires all orders for decorations and supplies to be turned in well ahead of the celebration.

“Flowers, all of the stuff for the dance, it has to be turned in before September,” says Cooley, admitting that this can make August “a little crazy.” Despite the responsibility, though, she notes that the ability to “get all of that stuff out of the way early” is appreciated. 

Even with this early preparation, the work of SGA is  seldom finished. “We have to plan the order of the people in the parade,” Cooley adds, listing that SGA must also provide “a script for Mr. Thorne to read and announce at the football game to present to all the attendants.” While Homecoming proves a tall task year in and year out, Cooley claims that she is always proud of the work her officers and students put in and looks forward to this year’s events.

The impact of Homecoming week is not limited to just the high school, however. Homewood High School principal, Dr. Joel Henneke, explains that Homecoming week “goes beyond the school itself,” adding that it “should tie a community together.” And it truly does. 

Not only does Homecoming highlight student life at the high school, but it captures the essence of the Homewood community itself. The quaint appeal of having all you need within walking distance, the friendly interactions between strangers admiring the band’s fiftieth repeat of “Flag Doodle”- it is all embodied during this week. 

It’s celebrating what we continue to do and who we continue to be”

— Dr. Joel Henneke

A sense of community and comradery serves as the foundation for Homewood, echoed by the pride instilled from the Patriot logo. Each of these things, in addition to so much more, is what makes Homecoming in Homewood such a cherished tradition.