Homecoming Behind the Scenes

Every year’s Homecoming is quite the production, and although students will probably only remember who took first (the seniors), countless people’s efforts went into the week-long event. The Oracle takes a look at what goes into the major components of Homecoming: brunch/lunch games, the dance, floats and airbands.

Brunch/Lunch Games:

by Jean Wang

Every October, students in each grade unite to compete against their rival grades in Homecoming brunch and lunch games. For most students, the games are just another part of the annual Homecoming festivities, and students think little of all that goes into the planning and preparation of these games.

However, for members of SEC, the successful execution of each and every game is the fruition of weeks of  planning and preparation leading up to Homecoming week.
About five weeks before Homecoming week, SEC begins the planning process, with all of the members volunteering for a certain brunch of lunch game.

Each game committee consisted of three to four students, who decided the rules, the supplies needed for the game, number of judges, the MCs, and the number of participants. “Game planning depends on the game and how long it’s been around at Gunn,” Special Activities Commissioner senior Cat Perez wrote in an email. For the most part, unless there was considerable dissent, the games remained the same as the previous year.

When deciding what changes to make to the games, SEC members draw upon their personal experiences of Homecoming games, improving upon the areas where they felt previous years had felt short.

This year, one of the most notable differences was the elimination of the Jamba Chug, and its replacement by the Egg Balance Relay. “[Jamba Chug] was very controversial and very hard to judge,” Senior Class President Jesse Zwerling said.

In the interest of fairness, it was decided that the Jamba Chug be discontinued. “Our main goal for Homecoming is to make it as fun, fair and safe as possible,” Zwerling said.

[pullquote]”Our main goal for Homecoming is to make it as fun, fair and safe as possible.”

—Senior Class President Jesse Zwerling[/pullquote]

As a result, the committee in charge of the Thursday brunch game had to come up with a new activity. “We had a lot of options,” freshman Class Site Council Representative Somina Lee said. “We combined a lot of things we thought would be fun.”

After considering alternatives such as musical chairs, the committee ultimately decided upon the Egg Balance Relay, which included balancing an egg and a three-legged race. “Games groups are ultimately allowed to pick a game that they want for their allottd time,” Perez wrote.

The games committees were each given a week to turn in a completed sheet regarding their game to Perez, who looked them over to ensure all the rules were clear. “If their sheet was good from the beginning, then they were done with the planning process,” Perez wrote.

Games groups were also asked to make scripts of what they would like to say during they games, and designated the people who were responsible for each part of the script. The class representative had to indicate the students who would be participating in the games at that time as well.

Finally, on the Thursday and Friday before Homecoming week, the groups ran through their games to catch any mishaps or complications that might arise during the real game. “For the pool game, we tested the watermelon and guys swam around to check if it was slippery enough,” Zwerling said.

On the day of each event, the designated committees would spend an hour planning before setting up their game. For the obstacle course, which Zwerling was responsible for, the set-up process took two hours, as it was necessary to both set up the game and debrief judges  about the rules of the game.

Most of the supplies for the events were reused from previous years, notably that of the ropes for Tug-O-War, while those that did require purchases were of commonplace items, such as watermelons or balloons.

While Homecoming week has already ended for this year, the work of the SEC is not yet over. “At the end of Homecoming, we talked about what went well and what didn’t,” Lee said.

This review of Homecoming games helps the SEC with the planning of future Homecoming games, to make them even better than the years before. “It was definitely really busy,” Lee said. “But in the end, it was worth it.”

Dance:

By: Erica Lee

For students, the last week of October brought spirit and a competitive edge filled with games. Homecoming week not only allowed students to dress up, but also ended with the Homecoming dance. Not many students know how much effort it takes to plan and create the Homecoming dance,. “It is the end to an exciting homecoming week where all the students can come together and enjoy a fun and relaxed night,” Dance Commissioner senior Jordan Humble said. The theme, “The Loft,” was Humble’s idea for this year’s dance.

Before deciding on the theme, Humble considered several other ideas, such as a modern club or a Halloween-based theme. “Both of those ideas were soon discarded due to lack of interest and budget limitations.” Humble said.

This year the dance had many more visible decorations. A major decoration Student Executive Council (SEC) members used was a white gossamer fabric, which was hung around the gym to transform it into a loft-like atmosphere. “The gossamer was relatively cheap and the bean bags were bought using the student body funds and are currently in the Students Activities Center for student use,” Humble said.

In addition, the SEC hung strings of lights across the ceiling and put out roving lights that circled the room. All the decorations for the dance were bought with a limited budget of $750.

Senior Special Events Commissioner Cat Perez wanted to adorn the gym with a lot more special decorations. “This year, I really wanted to stress with Homecoming and dances that posters should not be the only thing happening as far as decorations go,” Perez said. “An example of other decorations was the hammock in the Quad and the cutouts around Gunn.”

Even though setting up the dance was filled with some obstacles, the end result was exactly what the dance planners wanted for this year. Students really appreciated the extra effort that the members of the SEC went through. “The beanbags were a pleasant addition,” junior Lara Elliott said. “The white sheets were also cool, but the light show was awesome and definitely my favorite part.”

Floats:

By: Anna Qin

Photos by: Wendy Qiu

Frankenstein, Transformers, Environment and Wizard of Oz—Homecoming 2011 had some of the most exciting floats created yet. While a lot of the emphasis for Homecoming week is put on preparations for the Airbands competition, the class floats are just as difficult to plan and create. They require careful execution from the start of designing to the stuffing.

For all four classes, designing is said to be one of the most difficult steps. As soon as Homecoming themes are released, class float coordinators immediately rush to brainstorm with their class and design team. According to senior float coordinator Cat Perez, the senior class deliberated over four float designs before choosing this year’s concept, Frankenstein, based off of Horror, their Tuesday dress-up theme. “We were thinking of doing a house with rotating scenes to connect all the themes together, a barbeque theme with 1920s and horror people and someone even had the idea of putting a real Ferrari,” Perez said.

Similarly, the junior class deliberated between the house from “Up” and Transformers. The class decided on Transformers in the end because the black hummer fit their Monday dress-up theme and followed their concepts from previous years, a rocket in freshman year and Thomas the Tank Engine in sophomore year.

For the sophomores, there was no problem deciding on a concept. Sophomore floats coordinator Kathleen DeCoste worked with the class to create a concept that would embody all the sophomore themes throughout homecoming week. “We thought it’d be cool to do an action-themed float, but that it would be more extensive to include lots of themes.” This year, the sophomores created a Prius, three pets and a peace sign for their float.

The freshman class decided to focus on the Wizard of Oz and experimented with many technical aspects of the floats. “We had a tornado, as well as moving legs underneath the house when Dorothy’s pulled down,” freshman floats coordinator Tommy Farley said.

Building is troublesome due to technical reasons, but also because it has the smallest turnout out of all the preparations steps. “Let’s be honest—most of the people come during stuffing so they can say that they were a part of floats,” Perez said.
For the seniors, building this year was  mainly because of college applications. With few people participating in the build, the seniors barely made it in time for stuffing.  “People were really busy with college [applications], so we mainly just had our five to six main builders show up during building,” Perez said.

On the other hand, the junior class had few problems with participation this year. “I think people were more amped up this year—we had a great turn out,” Waschura said. “Also, we’ve accumulated a lot of experience and there weren’t many surprises this year.”

Sophomores saw a more organized experience this year compared to their first year. “We have moving parts on our float this year and also learned to manage our time better this year,” DeCoste said. “When we delegated the work, everything moved much more smoothly. However, there were technical difficulties, as expected.”

As first-year float builders, the freshmen believed their process went pretty smoothly. “I feel like our float was more successful than previous freshman floats,” Farley said. “Although we only had five to seven people helping out during building, there were around 25 people at build the day before it was brought to school.”

Airbands:

By: Lucy Oyer

Airbands performances may only last a few minutes, but the preparation that goes into them takes months of hard work. Many classes begin planning their dance before the school year even begins. Airbands leaders have to grapple with strict rules, flaky students and balancing school with the demands of being in charge of a large production.

For the victorious senior class, preparation began in the summer. Leaders Tina Hidai, Jordan Humble and Emily Wang began brainstorming before the start of school. “We choreographed the dance thinking about what would look good but not be impossible to do,” Hidai said. “It was hard to make everything flow and look good at the same time.”

Their music choice was a mix created by senior Omree Gal-Oz who has been mixing music for the class of 2012 since his sophomore year. “Basically Jordan Humble would get the music, then she would come over and tell me how to mix it,” Gal-Oz said. “It took us about six or seven hours to make, I think.” The mix featured tracks from films including “The Adjustment Bureau,” “The Dark Knight,” and “Inception.”

The focal point for preparation was the practices that each class held. The leaders  universally complained about dancers’ lack of focus at practices. “We had to be mean,” sophomore Airbands leader Maytal Abramson said. “We had to yell at them a lot. It’s hard to get everyone to stop talking.”

The junior class ran into issues with keeping dancers focused at practices as well. “Being a teenager, I know it is hard to stay completely focused on the task at hand for more than like ten minutes,” junior Airbands leader Sarah Klem said. “For those kinds of instances, a whistle came in handy.”

While many people may point to dance moves or song choices as the highlights of the night, the contributions of the crew in charge of effects were crucial to a memorable show. Chief Lighting Director Nickolaj Sorensen communicated with each class Airbands leaders to determine what they wanted and synchronize the lighting displays with their music. “Once I had all the requests, I went through and talked with the leaders about problem areas and finalized all the cues,” Sorensen said. “There was back and forth with some leaders, whereas others were fine straight off the bat after one correction.” The lighting crew had no practice time so everything had to be planned out to the last detail.

On the day of the performance Sorensen and his fellow lighting technicians set up the lights in the gym, working around the rehearsals and  issues with the rented lighting equipment. “Believe it or not, knowing that a quarter of the school’s population will be mad at you if you mess up is not conductive to a stress-free work environment,” Sorensen said. “Being in charge of the Night Rally is kind of a once in a lifetime experience. Not because you usually only take charge as a senior, but more because having to do it again would probably make your head explode.”

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