Homecoming in a New Year

Fiona Shepherd, Sentry Reporter

Students across Arlington Public Schools high schools were finally able to enjoy a school sanctioned dance after a year cooped up inside. A long-lasting tradition, the homecoming dance allowed high schoolers to show off their moves and hang out with their friends. Though the dance itself was a hit, new obstacles posed by COVID-19 caused planning complications behind the scenes for officers and staff across APS.

With thousands of students and space capacity restrictions, the designated planners for the homecoming dance deliberated over the safest locations to hold the dances. Stephanie Meadows, the Student Government Coordinator at our school, explained how having the dance outside was one of the top priorities.

“We knew it had to be outside. The Student Government Executive Board talked about where they wanted to have it.… We decided the courtyard is better for making sure kids are in a safe space, so we can monitor the dance and be safe,” Meadows said.  

Washington-Liberty followed suit with a homecoming dance held outside on the field, where students enjoyed a wide variety of music and entertainment while staying safe in a COVID-19 environment. 

However, having the dance outside was not the only option, and Wakefield High School enjoyed an indoor dance held in their very own Town Hall. The Student Government Sponsor at Wakefield, Julianna Araujo, highlighted the many precautions that the Wakefield Student Government and administrations took. 

“We had our students vote [on the location]. The biggest thing was the capacity size. There were pros and cons to having it inside or outside, and at the last minute we decided to increase the capacity size so that if it rained it wouldn’t be cancelled. That was the main reason that it ended up being indoors, but we also let the students vote,” Araujo said. 

The homecoming dance required detailed planning and discussion from all levels of administration to ensure that the event was as successful as possible. When taking COVID-19 precautions and safety measures into consideration, planning teams from all high schools experienced different planning processes. 

“There was more administration involvement because of COVID and vaccination status. There was a lot more planning with the administration because of COVID protocol. There were guidelines from the county that we had to go by,” Meadows said. 

“I had to rely a lot on the PTA, the booster club and the staff. It took a lot more of me asking for help. It wasn’t [the Student Government officers] who decided [on COVID-19 protocol]. [Administrators] told us that everyone had to wear a mask, and everyone had to agree to a test. The county was also trying to figure out the best and safest way to hold an event like that. We’re all learning at the same time,” Araujo said. 

Being one of the first major events schools have held since the year online, the homecoming dance marks the return to a regular school year. Despite the headache of organizing, the dances across the county were a success, and students greatly increased school spirit. 

“This year more than ever, more kids were dressing up for the theme and really getting involved. I  think it’s more so because they’ve been inside for the last year and a half. Kids are excited to do something and return to a normal school life,” Araujo said.