Mishawaka Homecoming: What Does it Mean to You?
The Merriam-Webster definition of homecoming is “the return of a group of people usually on a special occasion to a place formerly frequented or regarded as home,” but is that the Mishawaka High School definition? Homecoming is a significant event that is celebrated by high schools across the country. Though it was originally an event intended for alumni to visit their alma maters, for many schools, it has evolved into more. Homecoming now creates a cheerful atmosphere, promotes school spirit, and even a little friendly competition.
This year’s homecoming queen, Mia Mason, spoke about her experience,“...the themes and activities were fun… and the pep rally makes people feel like they are a part of something.”
While the activities are the most fun aspect for upperclassmen, the underclassmen seem to enjoy the dance the best. Addison Brugh, who was elected to the homecoming court for the junior class, said, “I love watching the homecoming game and the people on the court, seeing the crowning of the queen and king… the dance is more important to the underclassmen because it gives them their first high school dance experience.”
More on the homecoming experience came from Kaleb Chamberlin, Mishawaka’s band director, who graduated in 2009. Chamberlin played an important role during his time at Mishawaka and still does today. He said, “I was student council vice president, so I got to crown the queen. As the vice president, I did what I could to get people involved and excited…My homecoming involved lots of spirit days and evening activities. We painted the windows of businesses in downtown Mishawaka to get the community involved.”
As the band director, Chamberlin gets pretty involved in homecoming, then and now, “…I also had the drumline involved in the motivational symposium to get people pumped up.”
Since he is a Mishawaka alumni, Chamberlin spoke about the changes of homecoming through the years. He said, “Things are pretty similar to my homecoming, but I know things have changed from previous decades…Ms. K is currently doing a great job of providing lots of activities for homecoming week and beyond.”
Lori Kitkowski, social studies teacher and coordinator of homecoming, has implemented changes to promote more involvement in the event with activities like a dodgeball tournament, senior sunrise breakfast, and an end-of-the week pep rally.
“Some of the changes that were made were to try to advertise more. Students will only participate if they know about an event. Another change was to offer prizes for dressing up. A third change involves the pep rally. It was my goal to try to make each pep rally as interactive as I could, said Kitkowski.
Kitkowski emphasized the importance of participation in the homecoming events, as it makes the week more enjoyable for everyone,“I know that those that participated in the events this year had a great time but I would like to see more participation. If students or staff have ideas on dress up days or events please let me know. I am still learning and figuring out what kinds of activities work the best with our students. I am always open to suggestions.”
But, all the fun is not without its challenges, “Homecoming as a whole involves a lot more behind the scenes than people realize. For every hour of an activity everyone sees, my staff [student council officers] and outside workers put in anywhere from 1-3 hours on average… In addition, getting people organized to do events for the pep rally is always a challenge. My staff was remarkable in gathering people this year. Unfortunately based on time we were not able to do all of the events. There is always winter homecoming…” said Kitkowski.
Mishawaka’s homecoming week was memorable, the hallway decorations, the crowning of the court, and the lead-up to the big game make it a time to remember. Ultimately, homecoming means something different to each person, but it is a perfect way to get the school involved in something positive for the community.