Our View: Homecoming is outdated and needs to change

Old Man Warner, by Elaina Dunn
By the Squall Staff

The homecoming dance at Dexter High School is an unfortunate casualty of the times. Something once so revered with a central spot in high school life has become little more than a reason to throw a party  anywhere but the school. Year after year, without relief, the dance itself has been watered down into something that barely constitutes a dance, let alone something meaningful or worthwhile to attend. The mobilization of dozens of chaperones, the acquisition of a DJ without a Spotify account, and the brilliant idea of turning on the cafeteria lights during a dance are all now parts of our Homecoming traditions.

For Homecoming, a decision was made that reducing the risk of anything not according to school code occurring at Homecoming was to be prioritized over students enjoying themselves and having a good time. In accordance with this policy, the homecoming dance has become an entirely risk-averse activity. In the past, students and parents had a mutual agreement that students would act (for the most part) acceptably in return for not having too much structure and control exerted on them. But with the effective creation of a mini police state that exists from 8-11 p.m. in the cafeteria on Saturday, that agreement has been thrown into question.

Making this problem even worse is the poor state of the events that come along with Homecoming, such as the pep rally, which showcases activities that at best have become impersonal and at worst unbearable. While some of the complaints against the pep rally can be reasonably deduced to aging speakers and the chaos that comes with housing the entire student body in one gymnasium, poor planning and events that fall flat can not. The unfortunate truth of the “pep” rally is that most students view it as an excuse to miss class, and leave not feeling anywhere near excited about the game. Simply put, activities such as “Competitive Musical Chairs” and “human pyramid building” comprised of random volunteers and teachers while the football team sits awkwardly in the stands does not an excited student body make.

In light of these realities, it is quite surprising that the only change being made to Homecoming whatsoever this year is changing the traditional system of King and Queen to that of Royals. While no one is disputing that making Homecoming a more inclusive activity for everyone is a plus, simply changing the name of a dead horse does not bring it back to life. All court serves as now is as a popularity contest delivered via a Google survey. The problems of voting for King and Queen are not that different than that of the pep rally: unenthusiasm. It’s a well known practice among students to simply enter in the first names on the list or just pick them at random, allowing the small number with the name recognition and large following to inherit King and Queen to win to the point even the Russians would call it rigged. When people walk across the field it used to mean something, but now it means nothing at all.

Nevertheless, Homecoming is something essential to our community and high school pride, and every effort must be made to save it from redundancy.

With the dance, we can guess that the rest of the student body would probably agree with the Squall staff that the fixes are truly quite straightforward. Ease on the restrictions and just let the students have the dance that they want to have instead of the one that best fits the red tape. Leaving lights on helps the chaperones see students, but there’s a reason why even in middle school dances they used to turn the lights off: it’s an actual dance. Chaperones lining the walkway just end up giving the students the impression they aren’t just studying police power in AP Gov: they’re living it. Let’s tone down the amount of surveillance at Homecoming, because making eye contact during the slow dance with someone who’s old enough to remember the Soviet Union kills the mood. Finally, just hand a phone with a Spotify Premium account to a random student, he’ll know what to do.

The pep rally is a different beast entirely. It will never be exciting unless the student body and the various student organizations involved are themselves excited. If the rally is going to be exciting, so does the football team, the cheerleading squad, staff, band, royals, and everyone else need to be legitimately invested in the outcome of the rally. Pit sport against sport in challenges, club versus club, or maybe let students vote on a theme to make each homecoming rally feel special. If there’s one thing the pep rally needs, it’s purpose.

For the royals system, it really is a question of if we as a student body want to see old tradition fade into obscurity or shine in a new finish. Royals, as it is, fundamentally offers nothing different from homecoming court as the foundation of its popularity complex has not been dealt with. If we are electing Royalty, they should be the best of us, not the most popular. Lines of royalty are created by great feats or ability, so why not in Homecoming? We should, without a doubt, switch from a system of popularity and boredom to one of meaning and virtue, where in a Senior Survivor-esque style those wishing to be royalty undergo a challenging primary election. Royalty should have substance to the name, and there’s no better titles than those that require real work and skill to hold them. It’s anyone’s guess how these challenges will work, but one thing is certain: it’s more impressive than a Google survey.

Even with all of the problems concerning Homecoming, it’s our tradition. We shouldn’t find ourselves stuck in a perpetual cycle of  complaints against the dance, the rallies or Royals but actually put it upon ourselves to make something that surpasses our expectations. Homecoming should be a dance for the students, and ultimately, it is the quality of  students participation that makes the dance worthwhile.

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