Most aspects of Homecoming week have been altered to accommodate health guidelines provided by Iowa officials.
October 1, 2020
Homecoming events have either been canceled or subjected to change in order to meet guidelines provided by health officials to ensure safety to students and faculty. The traditional Homecoming Parade has been canceled in its current form, but alternative methods are being investigated by Student Council in order to try and make the best of the situation. Coronation, along with the pep rally, is also planned on being altered but not entirely removed. Dress-up days are expected to proceed as usual.
The parade will be expected to be held in a reverse fashion on Oct 9 at 2 p.m. Its theme is “Blast from the Past.” Coronation will be held after the JV game on Monday along with the pep rally. Spirit points will still be awarded to each class for various activities such as the reverse parade’s banner, pep rally battle cry, etc. Judging for the banners will be done on Oct. 7.
Dress-Up days will be themed around “Blast from the Past” as well. Monday will be the 1920s/30s with a “Dress to impress” style. Tuesday will be the 1950s with “Greasers/Pink Ladies.” Wednesday will be the 1960s/70s, with a “Hippies or disco” style. Thursday will be the 1980s/90s with a “rock and roll/hip hop” style. Finally, Friday is Trojan spirit day. Traditional lunch games will occur outside instead of in the Cafeteria.
The Homecoming Dance, a tradition that many were looking forward to attending, has been postponed to an undesignated date in the Spring. If a dance is still not possible by that point, student council has a back-up plan of a drive-in-movie theatre instead. This option was not available this fall due to time constraints for getting proper licenses and copyright permits.
The process of getting alternative methods approved can take several days. First, an idea starts at the student council, or its advisors, and passes through the rest of them. Then it goes to McKay, who sends the approved idea to the superintendent and public health. If the idea passes all three stages, then it is allowed. Minor topics tend to take 1-2 days for approval, while more major topics have to pass through the school board and can end up taking several days.
While the traditional Homecoming Parade has been canceled, alternative methods have already been put into action after much consideration. The student council has decided to host a reverse-parade in place of the traditional one. In this event, school-affiliated groups will stay in their activity’s clusters and have the community drive by in their cars and honk at them. “Anybody who’s in the reverse parade will be school groups,” said Heather McKay, principal at Atlantic High School.
Students in these activities can be confirmed to have been together all the time. This also ensures that families in the community don’t go out into the streets and line up like they use to, and instead staying in their own vehicles with other members of their family. The goal is to have the student groups spaced out along the path to the Trojan Bowl.
Instead of floats, classes and sports will be given banners to decorate. A maximum of six people, the first ones to show up, will be allowed to work on these banners. However, student groups that will stand behind them for the reverse-parade will not have a limit to how many can attend. These banners, similar to how floats worked, will be awarded spirit points for their class. Times to work on the banners will be set up during the week of Oct. 4.
Student groups will stand along a set route starting south of Highway 71 and travel down to 14th street. From there, spectators will turn west before turning north again once reaching Olive Street, and west again once they hit 10th Street. After that, they will turn south on Linn before taking Ed Podolak Drive back down to Olive Street. Finally, spectators will turn right and that will conclude the cruise route for the reverse-parade. Spectators are encouraged to decorate their vehicles to match school spirit and support student groups.
Homecoming Football Game
Athletics director and vice-principal Andrew Mitchell is planning to implement mild procedures in order to maintain social distancing guidelines and keep players and fans safe. Mitchell said, “We are not requiring masks but they are encouraged.” Every other row will be marked with signs to prevent people from sitting too close to each other. Different sections on the inside fence will be marked with yellow rope “as a signal not to stand or sit” in that area. For the concession stands, marks will be placed on the sidewalk to allow people to properly distance themselves. Mitchell believes that, in comparison to other schools, the rules are quite relaxed and shouldn’t be taken for granted. There will be no limit on the number of visitors allowed entry.
Originally planned for the two home games, senior night will be held at Homecoming due to the cancellation of the first game. Senior recognition for football players and cheerleaders will occur before the game begins. During halftime, senior band and girls swim team members will also be recognized. “Trying to do them all together before the game would take a lot of time,” said Mitchell. It is undecided on how the walk-through will work, but due to the large amount of members for each group, it is expected that facing the crowd in a shoulder-to-shoulder manner will have to be changed in some way. It is still planned for parents to accompany their senior on the walk. Girls Volleyball and Cross Country had already decided to hold their senior night during their home game. Girls Volleyball’s occurred earlier “just in case we had a COVID situation.” Mitchell said, “We’re going to respect their wishes for that.”
Mitchell expects the mask recommendation and social distancing guidelines (for all sports) to stick around for a few years. He also believes that the rules will only become stricter with time until the pandemic blows over. “But hopefully we can get back to a somewhat normal situation next year.” Most future plans depend on how research develops over the year. “I want to keep people safe,” said Mitchell. He also wants students to have the opportunity to participate in these events. “I know it gets frustrating, especially for parents at times.” Mitchell hopes that the community can understand that “this isn’t about us, this is about the students at AHS and the middle school.” His goal is to keep everyone safe in order to give students the opportunity to participate in these events despite the restrictions of a worldwide pandemic.
Coronation, along with an altered pep-rally, will occur after the JV Football game on the Monday of Homecoming week. It is expected to start around 8 p.m. and last 30-45 minutes with the pep rally. “We’re going to kickstart the Homecoming week with the JV football game,” said principal Heather McKay. The coronation is expected to occur around 8 p.m. at the Trojan Bowl with candidates spaced out in a safe and distanced manner. Activities director Andrew Mitchell said, “We can stay outside and keep our social distancing.” Games that have been done in the past, such as dodgeball and volleyball, that were once a competition between the grades are now unlikely to take place.
While there have not been firm plans, it is expected that the event will be hosted on the asphalt to prevent the need of setting up a stage. “People are encouraged to go to this because we’re going to be doing the Battle Cry,” said student council president Craig Becker. For the pep rally, cheerleaders have a set of regulations to maintain safety during these times, removing the traditional moment when football players would interact with the cheer team to perform a stunt.
Queen candidates are Anna Weiser, Haley Rasmussen, Tessa Grooms, Jenna Pelzer, Caroline Pellett, Alyssa Derby, Sydney Sanny, and Grace Barkley. King candidates are Zane Vance, Grant Sturm, Joe Weaver, Craig Becker, Keagan Garcia, Steele McLaren, Gunner Kirchoff, and Collin Mullinex. Candidates are still expected to walk out with their parents as normal and sit in pairs in a properly distanced manner. The crowning itself will otherwise take place as usual.
Thoughts from the Decision-Makers
Principal Heather McKay is struggling to balance safety with fun. “I know I have the responsibility to keep everybody safe,” said McKay. She sympathizes with the senior class’s outrage towards the removal of these traditional events, but also hopes for them to understand the situation and try “to make it the absolute best that we can for ourselves and for each other.” She also understands that most of the frustration stems from the uncontrollable aspect of these cancellations and alterations. McKay said, “Every situation that we encounter we can make it as good or as bad as we want. The attitude we take to it determines the outcome of it.”
Steve Barber, the superintendent for Atlantic High School, shares a similar outlook as McKay. Barber believes that safety for faculty and students is a top priority and triumphs over other aspects. He thinks that COVID-19 has “forced us to make decisions that we really didn’t want to make” but “we need to do those adjustments in order to achieve that goal (safety).” Barber said, “I feel for the seniors and I understand their frustrations and disappointment.” Still, he thinks that seniors should be more open-minded about the situation. Barber said that in the end, the need for safety “trumps a lot of our wishes and things we want to do.”
Student Council president Craig Becker has been flooded with emails and calls that persist even after school hours, in order to try and sort everything out in time for the events. “No matter what happens I just hope that people stay thankful for what we do have,” said Becker. He understands student’s frustrations at the out of control events. “I know that doesn’t make it any better, but it’s not like we are trying to downsize Homecoming by any means. We’re trying to still make it the best that we can. Because we’re all students too, and we’re working with faculty that cares about students.” Still, Becker hopes for others to see the bigger picture. He said, “It’s how you spend time with others that really makes it enjoyable.”