Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, teenagers across the country have lost many traditional parts of the American high school experience, from everyday interaction with teachers and peers to iconic homecoming dances. Walls students didn’t have a homecoming dance last year, but this year, with a return to in person classes and athletics, the Walls Student Government Association organized an event on November 5.
The event was outdoors at the pavilion at the Fields at RFK. In addition to a DJ and dancing, there were games like cornhole, hopscotch, and multiple photo opportunities. The dance had homecoming royalty positions for each grade and was catered by Potbelly.
Daya George, the SGA president, said Walls administrators had been wary of holding an event. “Initially, the administration was opposed to hosting the dance this year due to COVID concerns,” she said. “They changed their minds after the student government [persuaded] them.”
George also noted the contributions of the Home and School Association to the event. “Student government would not have been able to host Homecoming without HSA funding or support,” she said. “We are super appreciative that they helped make this happen.”
Unvaccinated attendees had to provide a negative COVID test no more than 72 hours before the dance, and masks were required, according to George. The dance was held outdoors at the RFK pavilion for COVID safety reasons as well.
Senior Jen Nehrer said that the mitigation measures taken lessened her concerns about the safety of the event. “I was definitely less worried about COVID knowing that it would be outside,” she said, adding that additional testing or vaccination requirements “eased my worries.”
“Even though we were outside, most people stayed masked,” Nehrer said.
Sophomores elected Avajane Lei duke of the class of 2024. “Being [homecoming] duke for the sophomores was a really fun experience and was also great to see how my friends were willing to vote for me and just go along with it,” she said. “It was also really fun to have Alex Horowitz as the duchess since he ran and lost in the Wilson homecoming court.”
Lei explained that when she attended one of the SGA homecoming planning meetings, George and some of her friends encouraged her to run for duke and nominated her.
“I liked that especially for the seniors, they didn’t do gender-specific [roles in the court] so two people out of anyone could win,” Nehrer said.
Lei said the event was a much-needed relief from school. “Being at homecoming was probably the most fun I’ve had in a while,” she said. “It was surreal to see all my friends dressed up and stress-free of schoolwork for just a few hours. Someone told me the pictures we took there looked like ‘kids being kids for the first time in 18 months,’ which is so true.”
Junior Gabriel Kraemer decided not to attend the dance after considering the freezing November weather. He said that SGA and administration “had said in the emails trying to get people to buy tickets that it was going to be very cold, and it didn’t sound that appealing to me if I was going to have to be outside the whole time.”