Homecoming royalty

It’s the ultimate day for school spirit week: Friday. Friday, the day we get to get out of seventh hour and see what student council has prepared for the school to get hyped about. As tradition goes, our team representatives, dance team, and cheer team performed fun routines for their fellow students, and Homecoming royalty was announced. This year, as many of you had noticed, student council decided to change the rules when it came to nominating Homecoming royalty.

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Photo from givemn.org

In years past, the classes nominated people from their class, then the top few girls and few boys names were put on a sheet paper to be elected. However, this procedure allowed for “bully nominations,” which can be defined as a mass of students that come together to target a specific individual, nominate, elect, and heckle the said individual. This also didn’t allow for the GSA community to fully participate in Homecoming, because there needed to be a male and a female elected.

This year, student council asked that anybody who wanted to be nominated had to nominate themselves with a partner, and write a response as to why they embody positive Highland Park spirit. This way did eliminate the gender restrictions, and opportunity for bully nominations, however, some students still didn’t agree with this new tradition.

One Highland Park Senior High student didn’t observe much of a change this year. The student noticed, “[That] the concept of it being more accepting was present but like what actually happened wasn’t really different if people were to just get nominated.” He further explained, “People should, like, be able to get nominated and not be so discriminated against but like being able to sign yourself up…it’ll cause there to be uneven numbers, or a lack thereof.” The student also went on to mention how GSA requested a change in the nomination process, giving gay couples the opportunity to run together which they felt was a positive move.

Another Highland Park Senior Student disagreed with the partner requirement as well. She said, “[I]f they didn’t have someone they felt comfortable running with then they couldn’t run.” She had stated that student council should have gone about the changes in a different way, ultimately eliminating the partner requirement. “The two people with the most votes should win, regardless of gender.”

One Highland Park Senior told me she liked the old process, “because it’s the whole school’s choice who’s running, not just people who signed up.” Having said that, she did however praise the idea “of it not being so heteronormative so like maybe if people could still nominate others but there wouldn’t be a boy-girl restriction, people would just nominate ten.” She added that this year’s way of nominating forced nominees to find a running partner, but she said, “when maybe there’s no one to run with.”

As a senior, I’ve sat through both the traditional and progressive ways of Homecoming. Reflecting back on years prior, I can definitely see the opportunity for bully nominations, and how the process of nominating can be abused. I can appreciate the changes made this year, in attempt to make the spirit of Homecoming week more accepting, but I don’t believe it quite got there.

I do believe there should be students who sign themselves up to be nominated, eliminating the opportunity for bully nominations, but I can’t say that I completely agree with the idea of “duos” or partners. I believe that the requirement for having a partner weakens the idea of independence and lessens the opportunity for one to win. I believe that winning Homecoming would be more exciting if you didn’t have to worry about having a partner. That being said, there should still be two winners per class, regardless of their sex.

Highland Park Senior High is taking great strides towards being a welcoming and supportive community, and I hope it continues to be progressive in its thinking.