With every new school year comes new opportunities, especially this year as students return to in person schooling following a year of social distancing. With everything falling back into place, Southern Lehigh High School brought back the classic homecoming dance, with a few adjustments. From freshmen to seniors, students once again got to experience the event that many love as part of the traditional fall celebrations.
Last year, October was a time of transition, when the high school was moving from fully remote to hybrid learning, bringing fewer than fifty percent of the student body into the building at one time. The uncertainty of COVID-19 transmission concerned many, so the idea of a school wide homecoming dance with over 400 people in attendance was out of the question.
“After the stressful years we’ve had, I think that homecoming is a good reminder of the good times before COVID,” junior Anjali Pail said.
This year, the Student Council rounded up their best ideas for where homecoming could be. Instead of an enclosed area like the school cafeteria, the original location, ideas like the middle school track or tennis courts flew around.
“[We really wanted to] find a way to be outside, and try to find a space to work in,” senior student council president Christian Piper said. “We chose to adapt to getting the courtyard as the best way for homecoming to deal with all of that.”
Students overwhelmingly chose the high school courtyard for its ability to have more possibilities for decor and aesthetics. The Student Council worked with these ideas to solidify a homecoming that would allow for covid rules and mandates to be easily followed.
“Being able to help organize a special moment is the best feeling,” senior student council treasurer Madeleine Zeidenberg said. “Coming to the first dance back because of COVID-19, we really wanted to make it special [especially for] seniors’ last dance.”
Being outside troubled some students. Girls worried their heels may not withstand the grass of the courtyard, the weather could be uncooperative, and students wouldn’t be able to play popular gym activities like ping pong. Some students wished that this year’s homecoming was like before; but the goal was to get students back together again.
“I think that’s really important and uplifting and really [a way] to unite the school,” freshman student council member Jacalyn DeSimone said.
Members of the student council understood the concerns of students. They included a shoe check in and a solid dance floor atop the grass while still including the ever important DJ, buffet style food service, and a photobooth to capture memories.
The courtyard also opened a space where students could feel comfortable about attending a large social event. By square footage, the courtyard is larger than the previously used cafeteria. This outdoor space allowed for more physical distancing, as attendance levels reached upwards of 550 tickets sold.
With the senior dance at the beginning of the school year at Shepard Hills Golf Club, Southern Lehigh administrators got a taste of what to plan for with homecoming and other upcoming events.
“I love the school spirit and the positive energy around the school during [Homecoming] week,” high school principal Mrs. Beth Guarriello said. “I want students to have the chance to create positive memories that will last a lifetime.”