Our View: Homecoming is Outdated and Needs to Change

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.

Continue reading “Our View: Homecoming is Outdated and Needs to Change”

Supremacy Reigns

After years of following a traditional Homecoming court structure, DHS jumps ship to a court of royalty rather than King and Queen

By Jacoby Haley and Tess Alekseev

And now, announcing your Homecoming Supreme Royalty…

Wait, what? Homecoming court has always been known as a high school staple, but for Dexter it just became a little different.  Faculty members and the student council recently decided to change the traditional Homecoming court: The titles of “King” and “Queen” will now be “Supreme Royalty,” and “Prince” and “Princess” will be “Royalty.”

This change is to be the first of many changes to add inclusivity, a principle some feel has been historically missing  in our high school. Staff members told the Squall said they understand there will be push back about this change.

Despite this, these staff members still stand behind the change. Continue reading “Supremacy Reigns”

OUR VIEW: Homecoming Needs to Change

Administration attempts to appease both parents and students as a lack of participation kills homecoming spirit

Every year, the school is a venue for students to celebrate the end of their homecoming weekend. The original idea for the dance was to host a formal for all students ranging from freshmen to seniors. In the beginning, it seemed to fulfill attendees expectations: low lighting, music up, and minimal staff interaction. In the past few years, for some, time moves slowly at the dance, and for others it’s not worth a mere ten dollar ticket (despite the fact that most kids could get their parents to pay for their ticket).

These changes have led to a combination of constant supervision from high school staff, who lurk along the catwalk, with the lights remaining illuminated. Now, Dexter students perceive the environment of the dance more as a prison courtyard and less as a dance. However, high school isn’t the first place students experience a school hosted dance. At Mill Creek Middle School, dances are treated differently. While lights are kept on at a high school dance, they are turned off at the middle school’s complement. In addition, the middle school hosts an array of dances each school year, with the lights off, and the high school only hosts one, with the lights on.

High schools in proximity to Dexter and their staffs, take an approach similar to the one the middle school takes, and sometimes a step further: lights off, hands off. The Pioneer Homecoming dance, for example, hosts a Homecoming dance with little staff to student interaction and with the lights dimmed.

To suggest that there should be no staff at the dances is outrageous. What students want is there to be a change in the environment during Homecoming so they might actually want to stay more than 30 minutes. If students continue the trend of leaving once the clock strikes 9, or not even going at all, Homecoming could have a similar fate to its winter counterpart.

Three years ago, homecoming held a much different form. Students stayed through a majority of the dance, lights were dimmed, and the music received less censorship than present day. Most seniors would agree that their freshman dance in 2013 was superior to the rest. Most of the parents and faculty that attended that year would highly disagree. Following the 2013 homecoming dance there was an outrage amongst parents who were appalled by the amount of explicit activity present at the dance.

The week after, due to inappropriate actions by both parent chaperones and students, was full of reform as teachers worked to create a dance experience that pleased both parties. The result was what we see today. Clearly the parents were favored during the decision making. Nowadays the lights are up and there is a small catalog of available music, mostly radio hits from 2006. Over the years we have seen a decline in the number of students staying longer than an hour, and popularity among upperclassmen is also going down. Students are starting to see homecoming as a one and done event.

In order to revive the homecoming experience, students need to actively participate in the festivities and accept that these changes are here to stay. Nothing is more boring than standing on the wall watching other people have a good time. Homecoming should feel like an opportunity, not an obligation.

Homecoming has managed to outlive its counterpart in the winter: Coming Home. The Coming Home dance is at the end of the spirit week we have in the winter. In the past it has been a dance the friday night right after the basketball game. Being when it is, right after the game, it’s a lot more casual, and people don’t usually dress up. Sadly, the Coming Home dance was discontinued due to lack of participation.  Which raises  the question about Homecoming. The “better” way for the dance according to the parents, has had an impact and potential to kill the participation and attendance at Homecoming. It is an important part of the year because it solidifies freshmen into the high school. It gives underclassmen a taste of what prom is going to be like. Homecoming is important, and deserves to be saved.

Sophomore with Down syndrome named class homecoming queen

Meet sophomore homecoming queen Alana Schwartz.  She is 17 years old and a sophomore.  She has Down syndrome, a mild case, which means that while she has a learning disability, she doesn’t have any of the heart problems associated with the condition.

One day Alana was sitting in front of sophomore Sam Bremmer on the bus.  Alana was singing and having fun as usual.

“I wondered how she would react if she were homecoming queen,” Bremmer said.

This is why Bremmer decided to do something special for Alana.

Bremmer emailed student council adviser Al Snider in August to make sure Alana would be on the ballot when it came time to vote for homecoming court in the fall.

“She emailed me basically saying, ‘I know homecoming is usually a popularity contest, but I think it should be more than that,’” Snider said.

Once school started, Snider met with Bremmer and told her that Alana would have to receive votes in order to be on court, like any other student.

According to Snider, Bremmer said, “Well, what can I do to make that happen?”

Snider and Bremmer started brainstorming until Bremmer came up with the idea of making a Facebook page.  Not long after its creation on Sept. 10, over 700 Facebook users were invited to the “Alana Schwartz For Homecoming Queen” Facebook page.

Diana Schwartz, Alana’s mother, first found out about the campaign when she saw the posts on Facebook.

“At first I thought, ‘No, it can’t be.  Is this a joke or something?’ But then I kept reading and realized it was real.  It brought tears to my eyes.”

A few weeks later, the balloting began.

Within the sophomore class, there were 12 groups of 20 ballots.

“Typically, a person gets three or four votes, within a group of 20,” Snider said.  “Alana was getting 13, 14, 15 votes out of a group of 20.”

According to Snider, Alana received about 250 votes out of 300 sophomores.

When Diana heard about her daughter’s victory she was ecstatic.

“It’s very touching that the school, and the sophomore class especially, wanted to do this for Alana,” Diana said.  “It just really touched our hearts.”

Alana remained unaware of Bremmer’s campaigning until the day court was announced.

“It was really hard to keep this from Alana,” Diana said with a laugh.  “It was really hard to pretend that nothing had happened, but we did it somehow.”

On Friday Sept. 27, the administration, Alana’s mom and sister came with Snider to see Alana’s reaction when he told her that she had been voted homecoming queen of the sophomore class.

Snider explained to Alana what she would have to do the week of homecoming as queen, including walking at halftime of the football game and riding in a car in the parade.

“The whole time she was very receptive to it.  She didn’t overreact,” Snider said.

“Until I walked away,” he added with a grin.

Once Alana turned around, she was so excited she jumped into her mom’s arms.

“It was a very special and touching moment,” Diana said.

Bremmer said she was “blown away” when Snider told her the news.

“I started crying when I heard, and then Mr. Snider pulled me out of class to tell me, and I started crying again,” Bremmer said.  “I was just so excited. I couldn’t even think straight.”

At the homecoming football game, it was Bremmer who escorted Alana, sophomore homecoming queen.

“This has been a very happy, positive experience,” said Diana.  “Because of her special needs, we didn’t think anything like this could have happened to Alana.”

This event has brought significant media attention to Dexter.  In the week following Alana’s victory, the story was covered by publications such as The Dexter Leader and mlive.com.

According to Diana, this can be a learning opportunity for those who have made fun of kids with special needs in the past.

“This will teach young people that kids with special needs have feelings too, and they need to experience the good things in life,” Diana said.  “These kids don’t get opportunities like this very often, and when they do, it’s a very special occasion.”