All Roads Lead to Homecoming

All Roads Lead to Homecoming


For Dougherty Valley’s upperclassmen, the one word brings back strong memories of anything from the crazy dress-up days during spirit week and the variety of skits performed during the rally to the actual dance itself (including, but not limited to: prepping with friends, going solo or with a date, the notorious mob in the center, the photo booth, Fruzzetti, and maybe the meatballs). For the freshmen, it’s their first major school dance, one that creates new memories and, if all goes well, essentially elevates the rest of their high school experience.

The big dance fell on October 18 this year, but the start of its preparation dated way back into the summertime, when leadership students met to discuss homecoming themes. With floats to be made and buildings to be decorated, spirit days to be coordinated and the homecoming rally to be set up, there seemed to be an endless amount of work to be done. Students were able to actively support their class in the annual battle of best class skit, building, float, and more by helping out or participating in the multitude of events. Workdays dragged late into the hours of the night and into the weekends, and students rushed to meet at any time they could to perfect their individual homecoming duties. Yet everyone still managed to pull through, meeting the deadlines and creating an amazing and memorable homecoming experience.

The overarching theme for homecoming 2014 was All Roads Lead to Dougherty. Each class theme was creative and based on some sort of media, allowing the classes to work with a wide range of ideas.The seniors had Harry Potter, the juniors had the Wizard of Oz, the sophomores had Route 66, and the freshmen had Sesame Street.

And this year, the homecoming buildings were arguably the best decorated that DVHS has ever seen. With effort and commitment clearly expressed into every neatly drawn poster or well-constructed prop, each building was transformed into an entirely different world.

Step into the 1000 building and you’ve stepped into Hogwarts. The halls depicted the world of witchcraft and wizardry, from the fireplace spilling out envelopes to The Daily Prophet (recognize the newspaper rack?) to the mammoth spider and snake, all referring to a scene or an object from the book series. Seniors were sorted into the four Hogwarts houses: Gryffindor, Slytherin, Ravenclaw and Hufflepuff, and various magical goods were on sale (make sure you purchase your wands before the term). Every teacher in the building was also assigned a subject befitting of Hogwarts (Professor Lazar of the Study of the Ancient Runes, Professor Decker of Hogwarts Orchestra). Even the outside of the building was spectacular: the Spirit Shack temporarily morphed into Hagrid’s Hut, the grand wood entrance painted with bricks represented the school castle (we know that prop was from last year, even the knight out front), and the platform of nine-and-three-quarters would always leave other classes wondering exactly where the seniors obtained a shopping cart.

Next, students could skip down the Yellow Brick Road—quite literally, with the yellow bricks painstakingly drawn into the sidewalk outside the entrance of the 2000 building. Grand emerald-painted doors reminiscent of the large Emerald City beckoned students inside, where they could follow the journey of the Wizard of Oz characters (present in cardboard cutout form), from the intoxicating poppy flower field consisting of handmade tissue-paper poppies, to the treacherous Wicked Witch at the end of the hall.

On the way to the 3000, don’t forget to watch for the speed limit. Tired? Stop by the nearest motel. The sophomores’ theme of Route 66—the historical route snaking across the States from Chicago to LA—mingled in with a bit of the Disney and Pixar film Cars, consisted of Southern California’s iconic Hollywood sign on one end to the beautiful night lights of the Chicago skyline on the other, with Radiator Springs in between (please obey all traffic signs, and don’t forget to visit Flo’s Cafe). Various signs such as Gas Up Ahead and Float Like a Cadillac, Sting Like a Beamer dotted the brown landscape of the desert, and a large cardboard drawing of the cheerful Mater from Cars stood proudly near the entrance. Through the halls, stoplights and streamers representing electrical wires dangled along the ceiling. Outside, cardboard boxes stacked up and painted as dark skyscrapers decorated one of the exits, while the main doors of the 3000 was plastered with graffiti-covered cardboard, giving off a ghetto, Chicago-city vibe.

Last but not least, the 4000 building led the path of nostalgia with a television show redolent of a homework-free, stress-free childhood (unless, of course, you’ve never watched Sesame Street before—then this wouldn’t apply). The Cookie Monster was creatively constructed to be part of the building’s entrance, and to be seen from far away. Up close, the Sesame Street character could be seen to be made of individual cotton balls painted blue. A large yellow school bus with characters such as the happy-go-lucky Elmo waving from the inside also decorated the exterior of the building. As students entered, they could observe the bright blue streamers spiraled around the staircases or the well-drawn characters, each strikingly similar to the original from the show. Elmo and the Cookie Monster made reappearances on the inside.

Each building incorporated the theme, as well as the class’ unique take on the idea, to create a stunning display of spirit, creativity and teamwork, showing off the best that Dougherty students had to offer. There were the factors of time management and strategy involved in order for students to create the most appealing visual aesthetic within the allotted amount of time.

However, effort was the largest factor in all of the homecoming building preparations, from designing to creating the artwork to the actual decorating of the building.

“It’s hard work,” sophomore Julie Deng explained as she painted a boxcar for the sophomore float. “Sweat, blood and tears went into the work—literally. A lot of people got their hands cut [on the wood].”

Junior president Rachel Ingram reported to have spent at least forty hours on homecoming prep. “It’s crunch time,” she said during a building workday. “There’s a lot of people [helping out], and it’s uniting the class together. Everyone’s doing a good job and being kind to each other, [which makes] the stress alright.”

With the buildings finished by the weekend, they were ready to be judged come Homecoming Week—while they were still in their prime, and before papers started tearing down and artwork started falling due to student activity, that is. But students were too immersed in the buzz of excitement to notice—Homecoming Week is also known as Spirit Week for a reason.

Spirit Week, which spanned from October 13 to 17, was a great time for students to express their spirit and excitement for homecoming as the week progressed. Monday involved dressing in colors of everyone’s favorite Sesame Street characters. Seniors wore blue to represent the Cookie Monster, juniors imitated Elmo’s bright red color, sophomores impersonated Oscar the Grouch’s green, and freshmen wore a bright Big Bird yellow. Tuesday was Retro Day, in which students strutted around in leather, denim, poodle skirts and updos of the sixties. Wednesday was the fun, bright-colored, mismatched Wacky Wednesday (because being blown away by a tornado isn’t so normal) and Thursday was Preppy Wizard Thursday (gotta dress in that sweater, slacks/skirt, and knee-high socks or polished shoes to be accepted into Hogwarts—and don’t forget your house tie). Lastly, Friday was Pride Day, where all the classes wore their homecoming shirts or other spirit wear, and blue and white paint dotted the faces of many students in the form of stripes, paw prints, or DV symbols as they showed off their spirit for the Homecoming Rally.

Students streamed in right after the last bell to dark flashing lights and thudding music. Once the gym was filled to the top with pumped, spirited people, the rally kicked off with the customary class chants, followed by the cheerleaders’ fast-footed action. After the yearly homecoming video filmed by Leadership to introduce the various themes and how they all tied together was presented, it was finally time for what everyone had been waiting for: the performances of the truly enjoyable class skits. Amidst the mud-slinging between the classes in the skits, the class themes were well represented, from the fun-filled freshman flash mob and the punny sophomore jokes (haha—see what we did there), to the spectacular Lollipop and Tin Man dances of the juniors and the magical wizardry of the seniors (the highlight? Honors and AP Chemistry teacher Mr. Schnell as Voldemort).

As the rally neared the end, the penultimate event was the crowning of the homecoming court. Respectively, the freshman prince and princess was Andre Kar and Kassandra Morando; the sophomore prince and princess was Laith Anqud and Joelle Ho; and the junior prince and princess was Bibhav Poudel and Annie Wang.

The parade followed the rally as the annual march from the school to Bellingham Square Park and back, tracing a route around the neighborhood across from DVHS. Each class presented their float and walked behind their float trailer, holding up various signs made according to the theme. The homecoming princes and princesses sat in the cars of their respective class advisors, followed by the senior homecoming court nominees in flashy Corvettes. Cat Clique walked at the end of the procession, shouting out chants and boosting the morale of onlookers.

The night’s football game against Acalanes marked the last event of Friday’s homecoming events. The senior homecoming king and queen, announced during halftime and before the unexpected yet pleasant surprise of the fireworks, was Luke Fowler and Kyla Sarmiento, respectively.

Both Luke and Kyla were completely taken aback by the nominations. Luke voices his bewilderment: “I thought [the nominations] were equal between all five [guys].”

Kyla Sarmiento never thought she had a chance at Homecoming Queen at all. “I didn’t think that I was going to win because the other competitors are great people that deserve the title,” Kyla explained. “I thought it was going to be Farida and Luke.”

When their names were announced over the speakers during the football game, both of the homecoming royalty had the expected feelings. Luke was “so happy and thankful for the senior class,” while Kyla was “really excited … then surprised by the fireworks.”

There was some criticism about the election process this year. Kyla stated, “I just feel people who cared about the process would vote. And it’s fair and unfair at the same time. I want people to see more meaning. It should be more about personality and how you contribute to community and school rather than popularity only.”

Luke summed it up by saying, “The process was effective, but in the future more of the student body should participate.”

Despite the electric buzz during the football game, with Dougherty students swarming the bleachers, the cheerleaders giving it their all to support the football players on the field, and pep band playing various vigorous songs to keep the mood up, the Dougherty Valley varsity football team lost the homecoming game to Acalanes.

But spirits were not to be dimmed, because the night after would be what everyone had been looking forward to for a long time.

On Saturday, October 18, the largest event of the week kicked off. The long, seemingly endless lines of students snaked around lampposts and trash cans, all headed towards the plastic tables. Overhead, the sky was already dark, but the night had only just started. The crowd was antsy; some friends had already entered into the realm of darkness and flashing, multicolored strobe lights, and the others still waiting in line felt, rather than heard, the bass of the music thud so loudly the ground would shake. Everyone was dressed to impress: crisp dress shirts and the sequins on dresses glimmered as they caught the dim lighting. The guys talked loudly with their friends about anything from the tradition of pre-dance prep to the after-party at IHOP, a notable custom of many Dougherty students. The girls emitted squeals of joy and came up with about 50 different ways to say “You’re so cute!”

Students everywhere stepped slightly out of line to snap pictures, from selfies to full-bodied photos, accumulating enough to post at least one or two on social media every day for the next two weeks. And even as the crowd gradually thinned out and the dance floor filled up, still more late stragglers rushed to their respective lines separated by last-name letter, their perfectly done-up hair flying with their heels or dress shoes clacking loudly against the sidewalk. The buzz of excitement that electrified the air, both outside in the cool night and inside in the gymnasium, could only be identified as over a month’s worth of cumulative anticipation towards one of the largest dances of the year: homecoming.

The homecoming dance did feature some new interesting elements this year. The outside rest area was expanded and dotted with card tables. A projector was set up with a multitude of Wii games: Super Smash Bros. Brawl, Mario Kart Wii, and more. It also had the annual, traditional fare of food involving desserts, drinks, bread and meatballs; a professional photographer; a photo booth; and two coat checks.

This year, students such as DJX, also known as sophomore Michael Echsner, were in charge of the music. Little to no slow songs was a wide complaint—however, many students still enjoyed the dance.

As the night drew to a close, with many girls already barefoot and Mr. Fruzzetti having already caught many less-than-appropriate (and quite frankly, unfortunate) dancers with his infamous flashlight, the entire efforts and franticism of homecoming festivities had come to an end. Friends waved goodbye to each other and drove away, maybe with others to an after-party, to IHOP, or to home, exhausted.

Homecoming seems to have ended for this year, but it is only lying dormant until it can spring up again next year. So whether this homecoming was your first, your last, or you have more in the years to follow, look back onto this one. Maybe you kept a few props and signs from your class building. Or maybe you have a cute video of someone (maybe you!) getting asked. Or maybe you have a couple of silly photos of you in the Prisoner of Azkaban prop, or next to the life-sized Dorothy. Next to the graffiti of the 3000? Or underneath the Cookie Monster?

Whatever it may be, this year’s homecoming was unique from any other homecoming. So if you ever feel the need to experience it again while procrastinating on studying for finals, just take a mental walk down memory lane—or, more accurately, through Platform Nine-and-Three-Quarters, or down the Yellow Brick Road, or along Route 66, or to Sesame Street, whatever strikes your fancy—and remember the festivities of All Roads Lead to Dougherty: Homecoming 2014.