To be a student in 2020 and 2021 is to be a part of a unique collection of circumstances and experiences that no other students have experienced. But adversity breeds creativity and Coronado High School’s (CHS) students have been rising to the challenges of school during a pandemic with creativity and grace. The 2020-2021 CHS ASB (Associated Student Body) under the leadership of teacher and advisor Nicole Belong have set out to bring new life to one of the high school’s biggest traditions, Homecoming.
In a small town like Coronado, Homecoming has generally been an involved community celebration of CHS’s students, especially for its seniors who are embarking on their final year at CHS. While it generally coincides with the a home game of the football season, students have been navigating around an evolving situation since September regarding school activities. “We have 41 students in ASB this year,” Belong explained, “and they’re great event planners. ASB is a leadership class and we met a couple times over the summer to plan for [the coming] school year which is when we quickly realized things were going to be different, not just going into the year.”
As with other classes, ASB has been meeting virtually once school began. “They’ve been doing a lot of Instagram and virtual competitions but this is the first ‘event’ event planning this year,” Belong told me. “We’re all learning to just be flexible, as both a way to be and how not to miss out on celebration.”
The group has been organizing Instagram, TikTok, and other virtual competitions to keep the student body engaged this year before deciding to commit to making Homecoming happen in some capacity. There had been initial hopes to do something to coincide with a football game that had tentatively been set for December after CIF made adjustments to the sports seasons, but when that got delayed to February and recently delayed again, they decided to press on and do what they could anyway. “In our ASB class meeting we’ve gotten an overwhelming sense from the student body that having stuff to look forward to and get excited about is very important right now,” Abby Hundley, the Commissioner of Athletics in ASB said.
Next week, Tuesday, Feb. 16 to Friday, Feb. 19, CHS students will be participating in spirit week days and class competitions in a mixture of virtual challenges and carefully planned out onsite events that will be filmed and shared online for every student to enjoy and be a part of. Hundley’s team worked with the Commissioner of Spirit, Brooke Levy’s, team to create something for each day that ties in with this year’s Homecoming theme of Enchanted Forests. “Brooke’s team came up with a Green Out on Tuesday, Disney Day on Wednesday, Nature Day on Thursday, and class shirt day on Friday,” Hundley mentioned.
“A lot of spirit week’s we’ve done we’ve done this year have been virtual,” she continued, “so it’ll be like ‘post a pic of you at Disneyland’, for instance, to participate.” Hundly tells me these virtual spirit days have actually gone over better than their in-person equivalents in the past.
Her team designed additional class challenges for each day that include an obstacle course they will be setting up on the field for four student volunteers from each class, a painting challenge on Wednesday for students to paint their favorite memory from CHS, a “Minute to Win It” style ping pong ball shake out game for Thursday, and a socially distanced water balloon fight on Friday. “Class points are a big theme this year,” Hundley remarked, “so posting a spirit day challenge on your Instagram story, for example, will earn you class points and the class that has the challenge that day, like the art challenge, is going to help your class win the trophy at the end of the year.”
These will all lead up to another new twist to this year’s Homecoming celebrations on Friday which is the addition of a video to air at 6 p.m. on Coronado Schools Television (coronadotv.me) as well as be uploaded to the ASB social media channels (@CoronadoASB on Instagram and Facebook). ASB Commissioner of Publicity, Ella Worthy, has been heading up this portion of the celebration that aims to bring the hype they would usually otherwise experience via that week’s pep rally.
“We’re going to have hosts and we’re trying to make it somewhat of a pep rally, so we have interviews with all of the Homecoming Court members, teacher cameos, the Cheer Team’s doing a dance, we’ll have past homecoming winners on, and the NJROTC Color Guard,” Worthy explained. They also recruited some senior athletes to participate in an interview challenge in the style of the “Hot Ones” game show. “We’re trying to make it as spirited as we possibly can and it’ll be a 20-30 min with all those things included,” Worthy said.
While the video is a safe way for the students to enjoy their own version of a pep-rally, it brought its own set of challenges and is a testament to the careful planning and hard work of Worthy and her counterparts in ASB. After brainstorming with everyone, Worthy and Finance Commissioner, Samantha Lorr, have been doing everything they can to bring the video to life.
“It’s very hard, something obviously none of us have dealt with before, so it is challenging, but luckily a lot of the video is people recording themselves,” Worthy said. “The court, when they come to campus, have been filming with Ms. Belong and the ‘Hot Ones’ videos were filmed in person one at a time outside, as safely as we could possibly do it.”
Friday, Feb. 19, will also feature a decorated car parade with the Homecoming Court and their families. While details are still being finalized, Belong, Worthy, and Hundley mention that the plan is to have students contribute to decorating, (street legal, Belong assures me), cars for their classes and the Court, to drive around the town.
“[The cars] will go by four parks and each class will have a park to correspond with the Enchanted Forest theme - one class is doing Winnie the Pooh and the Hundred Acre Wood for example – and be able to be socially distanced,” Belong said.
“Our Commissioner of Outreach, Cate Carlson, did a great job coming up with a nice alternative for us to get together but still be separated safely – to have the Homecoming ideology but be COVID-friendly,” Worthy added.
The car parade is set to end at the school where the crowning for Homecoming King and Queen will still take place on the football field. “We’ll still have the balloon arch and NJROTC will present the colors so we can keep some of the traditions, but only family members of the Homecoming Court and ASB members helping set up and clean up will be allowed at the field, but the whole thing will be livestreamed on Instagram and Facebook,” Hundley finished.
Though there won’t be a Homecoming dance next week, there will be a non-school sponsored drive-in movie night that Sunday, Feb. 21, instead. In partnership with the Santee Drive In Theatre, a portion of proceeds from the snack bar that night will be donated to CHS.
“I’m incredibly proud of the ASB students and what they have done and their attitude in general with all of this,” Belong said. “This year’s group is so creative and upbeat in the way they’re tackling how to make this work and make the campus culture inclusive and fun. That’s a hard thing to do but the way they are just always looking for new and different solutions and really keeping safety in mind is incredible.”
Worthy and Hundley, both seniors this year, say that after the Homecoming events next week ASB will have a debrief and go over what did and didn’t work to help plan other events for the remainder of school year, such as Prom for the upperclassmen.
“The most enriching part is to learn from what we plan and do and hopefully we can bring that to future events,” Hundley said. “Right I’m now very hopeful that with more vaccines we could do something smaller or even in increments for Prom. Ms. Belong’s dedication to doing what we can for everyone is getting me excited and Abby excited, and with kids coming back to campus in increments, well we’re hoping Homecoming will be the spark for us for Prom.”
Today, though, they’re hoping to pull off Homecoming the best they can and lift people’s spirits.