From bonfires to carnivals and finally an attempt at a semi-formal dance, PHS has experienced a wide variety of homecomings. Four months in advance, the homecoming committee is already working hard to create a successful event.
The homecoming committee consists of people in various positions, including Student Council, administration, and PTO, in order to create not only an event that represents the student body’s opinions but that is also appropriate and realistic.
“The PTO is doing the primary planning, and they’ve been getting Student Council input … They are really relying on StuCo to step up and do a lot of the work. There are certain parts of the whole weekend that PTO is going to be more in charge of, but they really want Student Council to take on as much of that as they can,” said StuCo advisor Elizabeth Taylor. “Everything has to be approved by the administration ultimately.”
Currently, the main proposal for next year’s homecoming would make homecoming a weekend occasion as opposed to a one-night event.
“We’re trying … to kick off with spirit week and end with a Friday pep rally, [the whole week] building up to the homecoming game Friday night,” PTO Co-President Kimberly Bitterman said.
“The game [will be] at 7 [p.m.] under the lights, against Ewing [High School], and we’re having a huge barbeque … so there’ll be tents set up right up above the field, and we’ll try to attract alumni and have an alumni tent … We hope that everybody will come and eat beforehand,” Bitterman said. “Then, we will have a halftime show of some kind.”
The nature of this show is still under discussion. “I’d like to see a powder puff game during the halftime and have the junior girls play the senior girls, but we’re [also] hoping [to] do floats … and do a golf cart per grade, so [students] could decorate them,” Bitterman said.
The idea of a spirited event appeals to students like Elisa Kostenbader ’15 who consider spirit to be an important factor. “The idea of the night football game sounds really exciting, and I … think it would be successful especially because of its centering around school spirit and the idea of what a traditional homecoming should be,” she said.
As for Saturday, homecoming will mostly consist of a variety of athletic games. “On Saturday, two games are already booked: boys soccer and girls field hockey … We’re really getting all the athletics at Princeton High School on display and celebrating them, while showing the school spirit,” said Bitterman.
The preparation for next fall’s homecoming is largely based on an effort to reinstate homecoming as a PHS tradition and make it as inclusive as possible.
“The PTO … is really spearheading a movement to try to bring back homecoming … There’s going to be a series of events that will involve [not only] current students but also alumni of PHS,” said Taylor.
In the spirit of inclusivity, the committee wants to include an array of activities in order to incorporate as many people as possible.
“We’re trying to have something for everybody in the community, so we thought if we can align forces with [John Witherspoon Middle School]’s Super Saturday and make it the same time as the games at the high school, people can go back and forth,” said Bitterman.
Some ideas for other sources of entertainment before and after the main event would also be crafted around the idea of school spirit.
“There are going to be a bunch of activities to go along with [the game], so there’s going to be a tailgate-type food experience before the game, and then the game Friday night, and then what I think they are calling a celebration Saturday night, at PHS—possibly in the gym, possibly in the cafeteria,” said Taylor.
The committee is also looking at a dance as part of the festivities.
“It will not be a lot of money … not a dressy dance, just a school dance … [the kind where] you don’t need a date. It’s just a time for all the students to come together and socialize at your school,” said Bitterman.
The unprecedented cancellation of last year’s “Spirit Semi-formal” gave the homecoming committee more knowledge on what the student body was looking for, which the members are using for the creation of next year’s event.
“We came to the realization that students really wanted a true spirited homecoming with a game under the lights, which PHS has never had but needs,” said Student Body President-elect John Morelli ’15.
The committee acknowledges the wide range of student opinions and is working to craft the event in a way that suits as many people as possible. “We’re always looking for events where all students can find some piece of it that they are interested in, so I think creating an activity that has multiple facets is always a nice thing, whether it’s music over here or art over here or dancing, … something that’s not just one facet but attracts all students and makes them interested in being there,” said Dean of Students Diana Lygas.
Different students have different visions for homecoming. Rohan Mallick ’15 and Josh Anagbo ’17 both said they are looking for diversity in terms of homecoming activities.
“I would definitely like to see dancing, games, and good music,” Mallick said.
“An event with good food, like cultural food, and good music from the bands at our school would be cool,” said Anagbo.
Mason Shor ’16 said his ideal homecoming would boost not only school spirit but also community spirit. “I would like to see some food there from local vendors, such as food catering from Hoagie Haven and Slice Between. Not only would this make students pretty happy but it would [also] help out local businesses,” he said.
StuCo, the administration, and members of the PTO have a plan of action to continue working on the details of the event throughout the rest of the school year and up until the event. “I would say we’re about 30 percent through. We have our outline, but we do not have specific details yet,” said Student Body Vice President-elect Max Tarter ’15.
Ultimately, the goal of the PTO and the homecoming committee remains the same: to foster a sense of unity and spirit within PHS.
“Homecoming weekend is not about being athletic or being on a sports team … You don’t have to be an athlete to come and enjoy it. It’s about bringing people and the school together,” said Bitterman. “That’s what we’re trying to do with homecoming. We want to encourage this school spirit and come together as a community.”