School spirit at the heart of Bexley homecoming
Bexley High School's 2013 homecoming queen candidates are (first row, from left) Regan Detwiler, Allison Mittman, Emily Munch and Sarah Dawley; (second row) Emily Callahan, Meghan Hayden, Emma Crane, Zoe Greenblott, Samantha Bolon and Kayley Barno. Buy This Photo
While there is some debate about just where the first homecoming was held, one thing is for sure: It all centered around a football game, a dance and plenty of school pride.
And make no mistake -- more than 100 years later, Bexley's homecoming is no exception.
Students at Bexley High School have been celebrating Spirit Week all this week in preparation for Friday night's football game and Saturday night's dance. Each day, students have been displaying their school pride. Monday was College Apparel Day; Tuesday was Ninja Day; Wednesday was Preppie Day; today, Oct. 17, is Throwback Thursday; and Friday, Oct. 18, is Spirit Day, when students wear shirts representing their classes.
But students haven't been showing spirit through dress alone.
A Friday afternoon assembly will feature the school's longstanding Powder Puff Football game, a friendly game for female juniors and seniors only, cheered on by the rest of the student body. Later Friday evening at 5 p.m., students will create banners at Cassingham Elementary School, which they will carry in the homecoming parade set to start at 6:30 p.m. at the north end of the Cassingham Complex.
This is the second year students decided to forgo traditional floats in lieu of hand-held signs.
"It got more people involved," said Emily Callahan, student council president.
"And it makes it a lot easier for the students to walk," she added.
The parade will head south on Cassingham, proceed west on Fair, take a U-turn at Cassady and another U-turn at Roosevelt before heading into the stadium from Cassingham.
The homecoming game is set at 7:30 p.m. Friday against Bishop Ready High School at Carlton Smith Stadium. The homecoming queen will be named at halftime.
The week-long fall celebration will culminate with the homecoming dance set for 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 19, at the Bella Doma Party House in Columbus.
Traditionally, homecoming is less formal than prom -- and the whole school is invited, making it one of the year's biggest parties.
"It's a dance to come together with all your friends and just have fun," said Callahan, who planned the festivities last year. This year, she passed the baton on to friend and fellow student council member Dina Schulman, a sophomore.
"There's no pressure with homecoming," said Schulman. "You just go with your friends -- it's casual and fun."
But Schulman isn't off the hook come Monday, Oct. 21. There's still another party to plan -- Bexley's winter homecoming in January where the senior king is traditionally crowned.
"All this planning really keeps me involved in the school," Schulman said with a laugh.
It all pays off as students and alumni share pride in their school.
Although the annual Harvard-Yale game has been welcoming back alumni for a special football game since the 1870s, the origins of the first homecoming celebration remain largely contested. Baylor, Illinois and Missouri are the three frontrunners, all having planned and held their first "coming home" celebrations around 1910.
More officially, the National Collegiate Athletic Association recognizes the University of Missouri as the birthplace of homecoming.
Using these early events as an example, homecoming celebrations quickly became popular on college and university campuses across the country, and by the 1920s, homecoming had taken root across the U.S. as an American tradition.