High-school Homecoming festivities followed two different paths last Friday, as a result of the gunman stalking the metro area. Krista Roper was crowned Homecoming Queen in the gym at West Springfield High School, as the students at Hayfield Secondary put their school spirit on hold for two weeks and rescheduled Homecoming for Friday, Nov. 8.
Although the Homecoming Week at West Springfield wasn't like those of years past, principal David Smith was behind their decision, given the restrictions imposed by the School Board on outside activities.
"Homecoming is a series of activities that go over a week. We couldn't have a parade through the neighborhood, we had to cancel that. We're going to get parts of the floats inside," he said before the evening's activities started.
Although students’ opinions varied on the indoor activities on Friday night, the decibel level peaked out about 7:45 p.m. when Krista Roper was joined by James Barber in his velvet crown for pictures and congratulatory hugs.
"I was shocked, I couldn't believe it. It means just as much," Krista said.
There wasn't as much of a buildup for the king, who was crowned at the Spartan Fest on Wednesday, Oct. 16. James took advantage of a few additional days to enjoy his royal title.
"We hyped it up in the middle of the week. I like it better that way, I get to wear [the crown] a few days in school," he said.
Holly Lukens, mother of sophomore Brin Lukens, enjoyed the students' enthusiasm.
"I think the kids made the best of a bad situation," she said.
Lianna Carrera is on the student government, which was involved with the decision to have the indoor festivities. She looked at it from the seniors’ point of view. They only have one more chance to have a high-school Homecoming football game.
"This was a way for them to come show their spirit. We tried to keep as much of it as we can. This was our decision, football wasn't our decision," she said.
The West Springfield football game was on Saturday at a remote location.
OTHERS AT WEST Springfield missed the Homecoming Court riding on the backs of convertibles around the track, the beat of the bass drum, confetti, streamers and floats. Christine Rini is a junior, so she'll have next year to look forward to. She was a member of the Homecoming Court.
"I feel bad for the seniors. It's not the same as the halftime of the football game. I'm a bit disappointed myself, I was looking forward to having my dad walk me across [the field]," she said.
Priyanka Tandon had to cancel her pumpkin plan.
"I was really excited. I was going to get a pumpkin and use it as a football helmet. The sniper ruined everything for us, but we still had fun," she said.
Casey Myers, sophomore, looked at the blow to the student budget.
"It's the most important game all year. We're really low on budget and stuff," she said.
Erica Repa, 17, still went across the gym, arm in arm with her father, Ed Repa, though she didn't like breaking tradition.
"It's kind of upsetting that it breaks tradition. They could have done something," she said.
Although the School Board made the decision against outside activities for the past two weeks, West Springfield security specialist Mike Ukele did look at posting guards around the field.
"We thought about that, but we've got to go by what the School Board will give us," he said, looking at the enthusiasm in the stands. "They need to vent a little bit, and I'm sure this will get some of their energy out."
OVER AT HAYFIELD, the Friday afternoon bell rang, and students showed disappointment as they left for the weekend. Christina Lourenco, senior, was disappointed.
"Everyone was ready for it. They told us a couple of days ago. All my friends already had their nails done, their hair appointments were ready. I don't think the guys mind too much, but the girls seemed pretty angry. I don't think it's that necessary," she said.
Crosspointe resident Katie Shepherd wasn't happy, either. She's a senior, and this was her last high-school Homecoming event.
"We had everything lined up," she said, with her dress, shoes, hair appointment all scheduled.
"I have not been willing to put my life on hold for this guy," she said.
At Hayfield, the Homecoming Week festivities include Pajama Day, Twin Day, Dress Up, a Powder Puff football game where the cheerleaders play football while the players cheer. This will all be moved to the week of Nov. 4-9. The game on Friday, which was scheduled against Lee but will now be Lake Braddock, Nov. 8, and dance on the following Saturday. The decision was made Wednesday, Oct. 16, but Kemer noted that some students were still in the Homecoming mode.
"They're still having a little bit of Spirit Week, but everything is postponed," he said, "I didn't hear anybody object to it."
Tony Christ, 2002 Hayfield graduate, was in town from James Madison University for fall break. Homecoming was on his agenda.
"Pushing it back as far as they did, I don't think that was necessary. It would have been nice to go and see some of my friends," he said.
Lee High School's Homecoming is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 26. The game is planned to be played at a remote location, and Lake Braddock is Friday, Nov. 8.