COVID Crashes Homecoming

Kai Heister, News Writer

     The Homecoming athletics and dance are fall staples at Wilmington Friends School. They are a time to celebrate the beginning of a new school year and new sports seasons. They are a time to hang out and reconnect with classmates after a long summer. However, the 2020-2021 school year is not a traditional time to be a student. Between online lessons and Covid-19 testing, it is safe to say this is a very peculiar time at Wilmington Friends. But with the hybrid learning schedule and sports seasons beginning, there is an opportunity for in-person homecoming celebrations.

     When asked about the opportunity for a homecoming dance this year, students accepted the fact that if it was happening at all, it would be a modified version of what is usually expected. Zoe Gainer ’22 said, “If we did the dance at an upper school gym and we all wore masks, then it could be fun. The big problem is that it would be really hot.” Finola Mimnagh ’22 dissented, “I don’t know a lot of ways of how the dance could be fun. It could probably be better outside on a field this year.” Katie Lee ‘23 agreed that “ the dance would [not] be a good idea unless it was out on one of the fields or something. But, it shouldn’t be in a gym. And honestly, it seems like a bad idea in general.” Overall, the sentiment was that close contact inside for a dance would be a bad idea. But it was shown that students were open to new ideas or different versions of what they were normally used to.

     Other than the dance, homecoming weekend showcases all the different fall sports Wilmington Friends offers. One of the biggest sports that is usually showcased at homecoming is football. When asked if they would be interested in a homecoming game or weekend, football players said that they loved homecoming, and would be glad to have it if they were able to. Jack Hebert ‘23 said, “I think it would be fun, as I enjoyed homecoming the previous years. As for plausibility, that would probably come down to how well the crowds are handled, since, as you said, the football game gets one of the biggest turnouts during homecoming. It would probably require a lot of deliberation about, but I do think there is a plausible way to have homecoming, although it will definitely be very different than previous years.” Another football player, Jaden Willie ‘23, said, “Well, I love playing football so I always think it’s fun to have a game. Homecoming is also one of the most exciting games of the year. The problem is I don’t think it’s in the teams best interest to have a lot of fans together because if somebody gets covid it could shut us all down. But if it’s safe I’d love to have the game.”

     Unfortunately, when asked about Homecoming this fall, Rebecca Zug, Head of Upper School, stated, “The Homecoming Dance is not possible at this time. I would like to postpone it in the hopes that guidelines will improve and we can have a dance in the second semester. But with the guidelines about close contact, I mean, a dance by definition is about close contact. You can’t be more than six feet apart. We talked about it at the admin level and all the alumni homecoming events are virtual or postponed, and it made sense to postpone the dance. With the games, I keep watching the Quaker Sports page. In the summer we were not planning on having a homecoming weekend. We weren’t planning on inviting guests into the building because of all the health screening we need to do. Even when the decision to do sports came, we don’t have any weekend games scheduled. So we wouldn’t be able to do anything like a typical homecoming weekend, with the lower school bake sale and 5k run or anything else. I spoke to the spirit committee, however, and one thing we spoke about was doing spirit Fridays, and I’m hoping these will continue, and we talked about a T-Shirt, and we talked about a homecoming-like event for students in the spring.”

     Homecoming weekend will not be happening this fall with the current safety precautions. However, spirit Fridays will be occurring this fall, and with hope the current safety measures will no longer be necessary in the spring and we can celebrate our homecoming then. Until Covid-19 restrictions decrease, it is encouraged that you do whatever you can to remain connected to your friends at and away from school. It is important to stay positive and have hope for the rest of the school year.