By Amrita Moitra:
There is one week every year when dressing like a colorblind five-year-old is completely acceptable; when screaming like a lunatic is not only expected but required; when a group of 500 students come together to show a level of unity and camaraderie. In short, it’s just your average Homecoming Week.
Looking back at the past four years, I can say with unwavering certainty that Homecoming has been the best 24 days of high school.My first day of my freshmen Homecoming was eye-opening, to say the least. After donning a yellow shirt and jeans that morning, I thought I was proudly representing my class. That pride vanished when I arrived on campus and saw the extent to which students exuberantly displayed their spirit. As I headed to my A period class in my measly yellow T-shirt, I had to walk through a crowd of seniors, like a minuscule Moses parting the Red Sea. It was a memorable, if slightly terrifying, introduction to Homecoming.
[pullquote]Looking back at the past four years, I can say with unwavering certainty that Homecoming has been the best 24 days of high school.[/pullquote]
In sophomore year, I demonstrated a clear improvement in terms of spirit. Facing my mother each morning in my themed costumes no longer filled me with embarrassment. That year’s Night Rally demonstrated a whole new level of class competition, when the Class of 2012 beat the Class of 2011 in Airbands, starting a rivalry that has since become infamous. The stress and anxiety escalated in junior year, when we actually believed we had a chance of winning Homecoming. Each game was a fierce battle between the juniors and the seniors. When it became possible that the seniors might lose, they pulled together for Jar Wars, systematically withdrawing pennies from banks all around Palo Alto. Juniors and seniors were forced to wait until the football game to hear the results. I’m pretty sure the nervous tension accumulated in that week gave me an ulcer.
This year’s Homecoming developed a different feel. After three years of listening to the seniors chant, it was finally my turn to yell the classic “Ooh, ah, you wish you were a senior.” For the first time in two years, it felt like the Class of 2012 had no serious competition in Homecoming (sorry, juniors). But the sense of entitlement to victory didn’t stop everyone from going all out; the level of spirit was greater and the camaraderie increased. However, every event was tinged with melancholy. This was the last time I would run like crazy onto the Tug-of-War battlefield to be squished side-by-side with other seniors, or experience the charged atmosphere of the Night Rally, or feel the vocal power of the Class of 2012 as we dominated in the Yell Competition. After each triumph, I thought, “This is the last time we will win.” It was during this year that I realized how much I would miss the overly competitive and ridiculously spirited Homecomings that Gunn celebrates.
My experiences during the last four Homecomings have taught me more than just how to show spirit or win Jar Wars. Inadvertently, these weeks of fun have shown me an important life skill: the ability to laugh at myself. Being able to make a fool of yourself in front of a large group of people, whether it be through a ridiculous costume or participation in the Ten-Man Pass, and then laugh about it is a valuable skill that is vital to success in all fields of life. Homecoming has definitely been one of the highlights in my high school experience. It has been a social gathering, an outlet of creativity and an emotional roller coaster. And now that it is all over, I can see that in these seven days, we were able to grow as a school, as a class and as people.