The Return of Homecoming


Abby Yanacek, Writer

For the first time in two years, Oshkosh North will host Homecoming week festivities Sept. 27 to Oct. 1.

Unlike last year, coronavirus policies will not deny students the jungle-themed events leading up to the Homecoming dance. Whether or not attendees will need to wear masks, though, will be decided by the school board leading up to the weekend. 

Because it has been two years for any all-school events, half of the student body has never experienced a school dance–or even an assembly. The last was held when the current juniors were freshmen.

“The last time we had any kind of pep assembly would have been mid-October of 2019,” says Student Counselor advisor and Communities teacher Richard Leib. 

The freshmen and sophomores, however, have not had a dance since 7th and 8th grade respectively. Concern exists that some of the traditional Spartan cheers and general proceedings may suffer two-year hiatus.

“[The cancellation of prior year’s events] created this hiccup, and [underclassmen] just don’t know some of the traditions,” Leib says. 

There are some rituals that make North’s homecoming week unique. The traditional “Go home, freshmen!” chant is always to be echoing in the fieldhouse during the whole school assembly on Friday. 

“I don’t think the seniors will forget to boo the freshmen,” says senior Student Council President Elise Liske.

The two-year break has affected more than just school dance traditions. Student participation at athletic events has also decreased. This year’s superfans have kept the school spirit alive despite reduced student engagement.

“I do believe the student sections are smaller, and I think that is because when you’re a freshman, you just kind of follow along. If you really look at it, our sophomores are freshmen when it comes to learning about traditions. We really have two freshman classes when it comes to familiarization of those rituals,” says Leib. 

Student Council, along with other organizations and clubs at North, have been working hard behind the scenes to make the transition to normal high school events successful. Despite their efforts, student participation might be low because of the gap.

“It’s hard when you’re trying to increase participation rates,” says Leib. 

The excitement throughout the week leads to the Homecoming dance on Saturday night. Organizers believe numbers have decreased since the return to traditional extracurricular activities including sports.

“I anticipate the dance numbers will be down,” says Leib. “One, because there are people who are going to elect to take a safety measure, but I think there’s two, people are just not used to ‘What’s a homecoming dance?’” 

Others hope that the break in tradition will lead to increased numbers at this year’s dance. 

“I hope there would be a greater turnout because there are fewer people who are negatively opinionated about the dance because they’ve never been there,” says Liske. 

Thus, it is up to the staff members and upperclassmen to preserve North’s traditions. Teachers have already begun to add explanations and plugs in their classrooms to educate those unfamiliar with Homecoming. 

“We have posted in Canvas a competition throughout the week to encourage freshmen to dress up similar to the staff dress up competition,” says English teacher Michelle Carbiener, who teaches freshmen. 

Carbiener and her student teacher, Jes Witt from UW-Oshkosh, even make accommodations for students to participate in dress-up days from home virtually.