Students at Whitehall-Yearling High School are embracing change during this year's homecoming events.
Because of on-going construction at the high school, classes have been held at the old Rosemore Middle School and Kae Avenue Elementary School buildings, forcing students to make alternate plans for this year's homecoming dance, parade, bonfire and game.
Despite the bump in the road, student planners say they are trying to make the best of an unfortunate situation. In fact, most look at it as an opportunity to make this year an even more memorable one.
"I just think of it as a new opportunity," said Shawna Santurello, a senior student council officer in charge of the parade and bonfire. "I know we can make it look just as good as if it were in the gym ... still make it look like it's our homecoming. I think it's going to be better."
The dance will be held at Whitehall Community Park in the Community Center Banquet Room on Saturday, Sept. 29. That change has posed some new challenges for Kyle Abshire, a senior student council officer in charge of the dance. Because he and his committee are not permitted to put anything on the walls of the community center, they have had to devise freestanding decorations that reflect this year's patriotic theme.
Abshire, a veteran planner who has been looking forward to this year's homecoming since he was a freshman, said he is a little disappointed to be celebrating this final event away from the school's auxiliary gym -- its traditional venue.
"But at the same time, I can't really think of that because I need to be able to still make it as good as it would be in the gym," he said.
Rikkia Colon, a junior student council officer in charge of the events publicity, echoed the sentiment.
"I feel like it's going to be a positive change. Actually, I might like it better this year just because it is different," she said.
This year's patriotic theme will play out in an Independence Day-like celebration. Abshire said they also plan to honor each of the four branches of the military throughout homecoming week. In fact, each of the four class floats will highlight the four braches of the military -- sans fireworks.
Abshire said the fireworks idea was shot down pretty early.
The parade route also has changed because of construction. The lineup will start at the old Kae Avenue Elementary School building on Etna Road and then travel north on Briarwood Drive to Cumberland Drive, east on Cumberland, looping north to Fairway Avenue and Fairway Boulevard, up Fairway to Country Club Road and then down Country Club to the Whitehall Armory building. The parade is scheduled to begin at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 3.
The bonfire will be held in the parking lot of the Whitehall Armory building at the conclusion of the parade.
The homecoming game against Lakewood will be held at the Bexley High School stadium Friday, Oct. 5.
The homecoming court will be introduced at 7 p.m., with game kickoff set for 7:30 p.m.
"I want to make this special for our seniors," said Mahilet Tarekegn, a sophomore student council officer in charge of Spirit Week. "I want them to remember it for the rest of their lives."