Observing Minnehaha’s history through the annual return of alumni, commemeration of seniors and collection of events and activities that has brought the school community together for over half a century
Although the origins of the homecoming traditions are not crystal clear, the University of Missouri claims the first homecoming. In 1911, Missouri’s football coach, Chester Brewer, invited all the alumni to return for a football game against Kansas. To Brewer’s surprise, nine thousand alumni “came home” to support the team for the game.
The tradition continued year after year and became more elaborate each year. However, it cannot be confirmed that the University of Missouri truly held the first homecoming because University of Wisconsin- Madison, Baylor University and Northwestern University also claim to have had similar traditions in the early 1900s.
Minnehaha has had a long tradition of a Friday night homecoming coronation, Saturday sporting events ending with a home football game and a dance for the students following the game.
However, because of Minnehaha’s new Wolfpack football co-op, the schedule has changed. Coronation was held during the school day on Thursday, the football game will be tonight and volleyball, girls and boys soccer games will take place tomorrow morning and afternoon. The homecoming dance will be held tomorrow night like usual.
Grade level Olympics, powder puff football and pep rallies hold strong importance in Minnehaha’s homecoming week. Grade Olympics began when dean of students Lance Johnson started working at Minnehaha 18 years ago. The idea of having competition between the grade levels was to heighten school spirit and bond students with their classmates.
The first attempt at grade level olympics was sucessful, and the tradition continued. Year after year, students crack eggs on each other’s heads, ride toddler sized bikes and fight each other while stumbling about in a sumo wrestler’s suit while being cheered for by their fellow classmates.
Johnson does not remember a time without powder puff football games. This uperclassmen girls’ football game has been a tradition at Minnehaha for many years. Students gather around the soccer field during flex to cheer for the ladies. Like in grade level Olympics, the seniors somehow always pull through with a win.
Up until about ten years ago, the homecoming coronation ceremony was written, casted, directed and performed by members of the junior class. So many students wanted to participate that each year the show would have a cast of over 50 students.
“It was very satirical,” said Johnson, “it was basically a lot of imitations of teachers and kids in the school and it was centered around a theme.”
Eventually, it got to the point where all the teachers were holding their breath, hoping the juniors would not cross the line and be too sarcastic during the program in order to harm another student or faculty. So, the conclusion was to have teachers direct the program with the help of the students.
For the last few years, art teacher Nathan Stromberg and social studies teacher Matt Ridenour have directed the program.
Normally, the event is held on Friday night, but this year it was held on Thursday during the school day.
“I don’t mind the change,” said Johnson. “I think it will be nice that every student will be there because it’s part of the school day, so it will automatically be a good crowd.”
The highly spirited week culminates with the homecoming dance tomorrow night. Students dress up for the event, and all the attendees crowd around the DJ and lights to dance their hearts out.
“The first homecoming dance at Minnehaha would have had to been in the late 80s or early 90s because up to that point, they didn’t allow dancing at Minnehaha,” said Johnson.
At the core, homecoming week is about being proud of your school and having a special chance to celebrate your school with classmates and teachers.
“We’ve always had really good school spirit,” said Johnson, “but the years where school spirit has been really high are years that that kind of spirit has maintained itself for the whole year.” And that is Johnson’s goal this year, so he encourages students to get excited about Minnehaha and stay enthused throughout the entirety of the school year.
The amount of spirit is derived from the example set from the juniors and seniors and their influence on the freshmen and sophomores. Johnson said the students this year seem to be a spirited bunch, so it is a possible goal.
Overall, Johnson has been impressed with students’ behavior at homecoming events. Their cheerful attitudes have heightened school pride and created a strong bond between students and among teachers. He can not remember having an issue with behavior, and for this he is proud of Minnehaha.