Going for the golden homecoming

Adjustments continue with pandemic restrictions in place

In 2020, Clayton Valley Charter High School adjusted to the pandemic by implementing distance learning and hybrid learning models, a cautious approach unable to accommodate major traditional school events. Senior celebrations were constrained, and Homecoming was avoided outright.

So in 2021, the Associated Student Body (ASB) organized Homecoming activities with a spirit of revitalization and the theme “Going for the Gold.”

“With the Olympic Games being so recent, we wanted to center our games and rallies for the year around that theme,” said Kennedy Covalt, ASB stage manager.

Homecoming activities were held last October, packed with identifying royalty (nominations and announcements), a parade, spirit week, a football game, and a dance. 

ASB opened nominations for Homecoming royalty the week of Oct. 4 through Five Star Students, a platform service used for student elections and information. A few enthusiastic students began to campaign with posters. 

Others allegedly stole the votes of their peers, which led to gossip and concern about election fraud. ASB consulted with the IT and discipline departments, as well as the administration, to ensure the validity of votes.

Karin Westbrook, an advisor for ASB, said, “There was no conclusive proof that any fraud occurred.” But ASB revised its policy using posted QR codes for ballot access, she said. “We did make an adjustment when we did final voting, and went into each classroom and had students vote in front of us.”

ASB revision of homecoming royalty policy continued with direct student input as well.  Two nonbinary students, Taylor and Jordan (their actual names aren’t used at their request because of their concern for their personal safety) noted that the normalized nomenclature for Homecoming royalty was heavily sex-oriented. ASB agreed to shift toward the inclusivity of “royalty.” 

ASB could not, however, change the electoral database from organizing students by sex as Taylor and Jordan had hoped.  Five Star Students integrates with the school database to present candidates for nomination and election, so the organization of students by sex was a software problem to overcome. 

“It seemed like the plan was that the nominations would continue as usual,” said Taylor, “but Halle, who ran the elections, would talk to a representative of Five Star to figure out how to set it up so everyone could be voted for.”

The goal for an election database revision to support gender identity was set for prom.

Homecoming royalty victors were announced before the start of the Homecoming football game on Oct. 22. “It felt really good that people nominated me,” said Patrick Rivera, one of the two elected junior royals. “I was really surprised that I won!”

Earlier that day, the Homecoming rally had reorganized the class schedule.  The student body was extracted from fourth period, directed toward the track, and seated by ASB as music blared.  There was some difficulty arranging over 2,000 teenagers in an orderly fashion, but highlights of school athletics, the resolution of a dodgeball tournament, a water balloon toss competition between students and teachers, and other wholesome moments from the rally fulfilled the hours of rehearsal.  

Oct. 21, the day prior to the rally, foreshadowed the excitement and creativity to come as students arrived at school with their pencil case and folders stored in a bucket, animal carrier, or other unorthodox receptacle.  It was “Defy the Odds,” or, “Anything But A Backpack Day,” of the Homecoming spirit week. 

Another activity was  “International Competition” Wednesday or “Mr. Worldwide Day,” which encouraged many students to wear elegant cultural attire and others to wear sharp suits and bald caps in imitation of Pitbull, the self-styled “Mr. Worldwide” singer.

Taleeb Weaver, one of two ASB rally commissioners, excitedly identified the 2021 Homecoming theme as “different.”  He said, “I think this one’s more outside the box. I feel like the spirit days are usually the same.”  

“For me, school spirit is like the number one priority,” said Westbrook.

The Homecoming activities of October were all scheduled to culminate with the dance on Oct. 23, but the rainy weather forecast required a change of plans.  ASB assured ticket holders of a dance and pivoted to the nearby concert venue, Concord Pavilion.  After a few days of logistical arrangements and secrecy, ASB announced that the dance would take place at the Concord Pavilion on Nov. 6.

This article was originally written for The Talon, the student news site of Clayton Valley Charter High School in Concord.