A Guide to Courting

The experience of homecoming itself is best personified in the idea of a homecoming court- individuals who best represent our respective classes are elected to figuratively head the masses in a gallant pursuit of Wildcat spirit for one week. And even further, it’s a chance for each of us to evaluate our peers.

The last time I voted for a homecoming court nominee was two years ago.

Every cheesy movie about high school drama in the 90’s always culminated in a school dance with an elected court. And every cheesy 90’s movie always preached the same message: it’s what’s on the inside that matters. Personally, I think the cliché is awkward because in reality, we are all the same on the inside. Go to any HAP classroom at DV and ask for an anatomy poster to see what I mean. Aside from my cynical perspective, it’s true that in every movie, the homecoming court (especially the queen) always came down to the most ‘popular’ girl in school and the noble self-proclaimed ‘nerd’ who wasn’t as beautiful but devoted her time to foreign orphans or an animal shelter. And the latter always won.  I spent my summer before ninth grade wholeheartedly believing this was how high school actually worked. But why is this? It’s because we are taught, from a moral standpoint, that we should condemn the popularity contest. Interestingly enough, some student bodies genuinely do this. The Huffington Post reports four stories from 2011-2013 of high schools across the country electing students previously ousted from their social community-students who were transgender, gay, lesbian, or had special needs-to homecoming court. While Dougherty is not one of them, there is a slightly different dynamic that takes hold of our school.

Some of us have nominated our friends and their significant others as idyllic jokes, or for cute stories to tell. There may be a hint of malicious intent behind it- apparent to us when our Facebook feeds blow up with badly photoshopped pictures of the individuals at the pinnacle of our grade level cropped onto the body of President Obama. We treat the court with a level of hilarity understood at length only by some of the most satirical of us all. And as a result, voting plummets. This year, our voters only included 26% of the Senior class, 17% of the Junior class, 21% of the Sophomore class, and a whopping 11% of the Freshmen class. But I think the reason for this voter apathy isn’t that we disapprove of the idea of a homecoming court or that we consider it obsolete. I think it’s because a lot of us don’t see it for what it truly is- a way to appreciate the really incredible individuals in our classes. It’s understandable, though, given the stringent mindset of individual success that the Dougherty academic environment encourages. We are loath to consider other students as smarter, more successful, or more impressive than ourselves. But as we get older, we will realize that this isn’t how the real world works. At points in our life, we are required to acknowledge the strengths of others and realize that they can offer things we ourselves cannot. In the case of a homecoming court, a little humility would serve us well. We should value the opportunity to acknowledge our peers for their profound qualities- whether they have leadership skills, an incredible personality, academic success, or dedication to their passions. Scorning the homecoming court with satirical humour only robs us of the chance to reach out and connect with other students.

It’s time for us to start treating homecoming court as an extension of the qualities we already admire in each Dougherty student. This year, it seems we are finally taking steps in the right direction- some of our nominees are stellar people. But going forward, we should realize that Dougherty is more than qualified, with an extremely accomplished student body, to personify our classes in diverse successes. We are leaders in everything else; why not in Wildcat spirit?

1) Could a low voting rate have something to do with glitchy voting polls online?

2) Some students have been nominated for homecoming court every single year they’ve been at the school but haven’t really done anything for the good of the student body. Could this be a result of rigged voting or just an obnoxious group friends hoping to pull a really lame prank?

3) Do you believe that the people on our homecoming court are an adequate representation of the integrity and good will of the students on our campus.

4) Should homecoming court even exist? Some can argue that it’s basically one big ‘educated’ beauty pageant.