The Wave

Is Homecoming Welcoming?

Kalli Jacobs, Staff Writer

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“Go Rays!” yelled the cheerleaders as they rose and shook their pom poms while loud music echoed from the speakers. Students clapped unenthusiastically and  the occasional student yelled along with the cheerleaders. After witnessing this, I began to ask myself, What makes a good pep rally, and why doesn’t screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-00-42-pmour school accomplish that definition to its full potential? Why aren’t the students motivated enough to join in with the cheers? Are they really allowed to participate? How does our school’s pep rally compare to other schools in the area? What are some ways in which we could improve participation for next year’s pep rally?

Year after year, Marco Island Academy encourages its students to participate in  Homecoming Spirit Week and pep rally. This year, each day of Spirit Week tied into the homecoming dance theme, Candyland. Monday was ‘Sweet Dreams Day,’ when students were advised to wear their favorite pajamas to school. Robes and slippers were sighted often. A large amount of students participated — it was, after all, one of the easier spirit days to participate in. Tuesday was ‘Three Musketeers Day,’ when students were expected to match with a friend (or two), which was a clever idea, but was not very successful. Three reasons for this may be because friends did not own similar outfits, they did not take the time to plan on matching, or they screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-05-22-pmdecided not to participate on Tuesday in general. Overall, the amount of participation was an unexpected disappointment. Wednesday was ‘Laffy Taffy Wacky Day’ on which students wore crazy clothes and mismatched patterns. Cheetah, zebra, and plaid patterns could be seen nearly everywhere on campus. Perhaps it was the easiest spirit day to participate in, but there were still quite a few students who did not contribute to the spirit of the week, even on this day.

Thursday was screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-08-37-pm‘Home Sweet Homecoming Ray Day’ and also the day of the pep rally, so students were expected to show school spirit by wearing their Rays gear. It would be assumed that students would participate in the spirit day that required the least amount of creativity and thought. There were students who went above and beyond, but there were also the students who wore gear from other schools or didn’t contribute to the spirit day at all. Friday was ‘Skittles Day’ in which students were supposed to “dress the rainbow,” or pick a Skittle color and dress to represent that Skittle. Yet again, students lacked motivation, this time since the pep rally was the day before and students did not have a prize to strive towards. After conducting a survey, I noticed that this was a very popular response: students and faculty would really like a prize to strive for rather than a stick after a full week of participation and contests

The contests at lunch were a major hit, especially with the faculty. Most students were able to see our screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-13-21-pmprincipal, Miss Scott, riding on Coach Corio’s shoulders, expressing her excitement and sporting her unique, hot pink wig. Other than that, there were no noteworthy or memorable moments made, most likely due to the lack of involvement. This was another issue that was addressed on the survey; many students and faculty members feel that not enough people were involved throughout the homecoming week. Rather than only including two members of each class, it may be a better idea to get more students involved, or to choose a class representative to head up crowd pleasers such as chant-offs, sing-alongs, or karaoke competitions.

Another issue with the lunch activities was the music being played between activities. Many survey responses conveyed a negative reaction regarding the music being played during lunch and during the dance. I was introduced to many clever ideas such as students suggesting music at lunch rather than at the dance because not every student went to the dance, but almost every student attends lunch on a daily basis.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-17-32-pmEveryone that was required to participate in this year’s pep rally did, but the Student Leadership Team noticed many absentees on the day of the rally, especially in the homecoming court. With most of the activities only involving a small portion of the student body, it created a new issue that the majority of the faculty mentioned in the survey: a lack of participation due to the lack of motivated involvement. Although there were not many solutions mentioned to remedy the issue for next year’s pep rally, it definitely needs more thought put into it to fully express the spirit of this school. As a member of the homecoming court, I can say that it was very rewarding and I felt very honored to be one of the few students allowed to participate in this year’s pep rally. I applaud the Student Leadership Team for the time they obviously put into this homecoming week and all that they have accomplished by themselves. Most likely, the Student Leadership Team would be open to suggestions for next year.

This year, Lely High School incorporated something new into their pep rally and spirit week. According to an anonymous Lely student, “We had competitions in the courtyard with things like a dunk tank and a jam circle, but the band makes the entire week ten times better…” A Naples High School student added, “The spirit days are my favorite part. It really shows creativity and creates memories that will last a lifetime all while representing the true character of our school,” and later added, “We don’t make it a competition, we are a family [and] we don’t need to prove that one class is better than another.”

The Student Leadership Team also planned the Homecoming Cookout at Winterberry Field on Friday screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-18-43-pmafternoon starting at five o’clock. Just before the game, they planned on having music, food, games, face painting, and more with the students, parents, and returning alumni. A student, who wishes to remain anonymous, commented, “The idea flopped due to the weather and the lack of attendance, and without a backup plan, the cookout was forced to be cancelled.

screen-shot-2016-11-14-at-3-20-02-pmAlthough the cookout was a very clever idea, students should have allocated more time when planning events and uncontrollable outside forces should have been taken into account. Most of the attendees were the families of football players or cheerleaders, and for the duration of the cookout, many people waited in their cars for the skies to clear and for the football game to begin.

The turnout for the homecoming game was much more than expected; the whole city came together for the announcement of the homecoming court and to witness the immense school spirit. The shouting echoed across the field as each member of the court was announced and the excitement continued to grow when the big secret was revealed: “Your 2016-2017 Homecoming King and Queen are Bon Deese and Jamy Spencer!” After the halftime events commenced, the crowd began to diminish because of the lack of activities to celebrate the announcement of the homecoming court. “Lely holds tailgating parties before, during, and after every game,” said an anonymous Lely student.

The following day, after our loss to the St. John Neumann Celtics at the homecoming football game, the students danced the night away at our Candyland themed dance. The dance was held at the Marco Island Marriott Beach Pavilion from 6pm to 9pm on Saturday night. The dance featured a photo booth, candy buffet, dessert bar, and more to bring an end to the homecoming week. It seemed as though the student body’s participation was much more evident during the dance than throughout the week. Of students surveyed, 62.8% attended both the game and the dance but only 33.5% of students participated in all five days of spirit week.

After full evaluation of the survey conducted, I realized that many students and faculty members had good ideas that may be a helpful contribution to aid next year’s Student Leadership Team in brainstorming all-inclusive activities. It is understandable that we are a small school with a limited budget, and the absence of a marching band is a very substantial difference. To make up for these hindrances, we need to work together as a Rays family and help the Student Leadership Team and not compare ourselves to other schools’ homecoming weeks because we are not on that level just yet. This fun-filled week does not need to be a competition, especially between schools, but instead we can absorb ideas from outside resources.

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Is Homecoming Welcoming?