Homecoming traditions not what they used to be

October 14, 2009 — by Karthik Annaamalai and Ren Norris

Students sometimes hear their parents talk about their high school experiences filled with spirit days and dances. Their academics did not seem as daunting, the activities and sports were not as intense and, overall, the environment of high school was far less stressful. But most importantly, students hear about the events that galvanized the older generation into becoming a united and spirited school.

With so many challenges being thrown at them, modern students have lost that spirit that came along with traditional activities such as Homecoming. Homecoming used to be a week in which the entire school took geared up for the big game and dance. In the week prior to the Homecoming weekend, there used to be dress-up spirit days every day—a tradition still carried on by other high schools, such as Los Gatos.

The school does have quad days to rally the school but almost never has a wide showcase of spirit. This lost practice may have to do with the more rigorous academics at Saratoga. With many tough classes to keep up with, having a whole week dedicated to spirit may seem impossible.

Even though the school has kept many of the same Homecoming activities, like decorating the school to different themes, playing a big football game, crowning Homecoming royalty and having a dance, there have also been many important customs lost over time. For one thing, bonfires and parades seem to have gone away. Fifty years years ago, there were school-wide bonfires and parades with floats made by each class that the Homecoming royalty would ride on.

By creating more spirit events, such as parades and float contests, the school can rekindle the spirit of the school. Simply having these events, however, will not generate spirit as the students themselves need to forget about their academics for one week and bask in the enjoyable environment created by their peers.
To increase school spirit, teachers can do their part by assigning smaller homework loads to allow students the time required to make Homecoming a memorable event. Some schools force teachers to assign no homework the weekend before Homecoming.

The main purpose of Homecoming, something lost over the years, is for almuni to return to Saratoga High to show support for their alma mater. Homecoming used to be a community-wide event in which parents, alumni and residents of the community would go to a football game and cheer for the high school team. Now, not many alumni celebrate Homecoming, which detracts from the connection between them and their former school.

With a level of stress and academics unknown to the older generations, students have seen many traditions fade away since they don’t have time for both classes and doing things like building floats. But why not bring some of these traditions back and scale back on academics for one short week? After all, having strong Homecoming traditions will create memories they will be able to tell their own kids about.

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