Homecoming falls on same week for three local districts this year
Homecoming Week: The annual ritual that takes over the campuses of high schools, colleges and universities across the nation for one week each fall is steeped in traditions that are as unique to each school as the communities in which they are based.
What began as a means of welcoming student alumni and teachers back to their former schools has evolved into an annual celebration of school spirit and community pride.
"It creates a good week for the kids to have fun and look forward to," said Frazee-Vergas High School Principal Brian Koslofsky, then admitted, "I'm looking forward to Monday (after it's over)."
Though the Homecoming traditions at Detroit Lakes, Frazee-Vergas and Lake Park-Audubon -- which all held their Homecoming festivities this past week -- have much in common, they also have some aspects that are quite different.
For instance, in Lake Park-Audubon, the district only has one elementary school, so the elementary kids are bussed over to the high school for the Friday afternoon pep fest.
In Detroit Lakes, however, there are several elementary schools, so rather than bussing the younger kids into the high school for a pep fest, the district has chosen to bring the pep fest to them, in an annual event known as the Parade of Schools.
The Homecoming Court -- including the newly-crowned king and queen -- as well as the senior athletes from each of the sports teams will visit the Roosevelt, Rossman and Holy Rosary elementary campuses on the Thursday before the Homecoming football game, to participate in a pep fest with the students at each school.
Most schools choose to host the annual Homecoming dance at the conclusion of the traditional Friday night football game; but in Frazee-Vergas, the students chose to hold the dance Saturday night instead.
According to Koslofsky, the change from Friday to Saturday night serves the dual purpose of allowing the festivities to start an hour earlier (at 9:30 p.m.), and letting the football players participate fully, rather than showing up after the dance has already started.
"Win or lose, they'll all have a good time," Koslofsky added.
And then, there's the rather inappropriately named tradition known as the "powder puff" football game, in which the girls from the junior and senior classes face off in a battle for class pride -- and bragging rights until the following year.
The competitions have often become so heated that injuries have resulted, prompting some districts -- including Frazee-Vergas this year -- to choose a less physical alternative.
Besides the selection of a Homecoming king and queen, along with their royal attendants, Homecoming Week in most area schools also involves daily costume themes, known as "dress up days."
"It is so fun -- when else can you wear a fake mustache to school and carry a fake pipe?" said Frazee-Vergas student Bayleigh Antonsen, referring to the spy costume she wore for the school's Thursday Homecoming theme, "Spy/Detective Day."
Kal Larson, an eighth grader at Lake Park-Audubon High School, participated in all of the school's dress-up themes this past week -- most notably donning a Britney Spears costume for "Celebrity Look-Alike Day" on Thursday.
"I always thought she was kind of crazy," said Larson of his reason for choosing the unique costume.
He also died his hair red for "Raider Day," in which students were asked to don the school's colors.
When asked why she chose to emulate Minnie Mouse, LP-A's Nicole Beauchamp admitted it was a random choice, but a good one because it "makes people laugh."
Fellow Raider supporter Kyle Meecham decided to emulate Albert Einstein, because he was currently reading books about the famous mathematician.
"Did you know he was Jewish -- and German, like me?" he asked.
"School spirit" was the motivation for Frazee's Zack Ziegler to dress as a spy, while Ashley Anderson admitted she enjoyed "all the compliments" she got for her ensemble -- complete with ski mask.
Plus, Anderson added, it was a chance for her and her friends to "be goofy -- it's what we do best."
Part of the fun also lies in "being able to show that you're creative," said her classmate Angie Wokasch.
One tradition that is unique among schools in this area is Detroit Lakes' annual Homecoming Parade. Held on the Friday afternoon before the big Homecoming football game, this show of school spirit concludes with a reception at Washington Square Mall for all parade participants and spectators.
In Frazee-Vergas, the district opted to host its traditional student and faculty talent show on the Friday afternoon before the big game, while in Lake Park-Audubon, there was an afternoon pep rally and a "Raider Tater" baked potato feed prior to the game.