BY ANDREA CONLEY
ARLINGTON — Oct. 14-18 marked a full week of celebration for the Arlington High School Homecoming, an annual event that’s followed a tradition for many, many years. Indeed, it’s difficult to find a past graduate who knows when the festivities initially began.
This year, Spirit Week included a variety of activities. Monday began with P.J. Day, during which students wore pajamas to class. Students wore their favorite college sports team apparel on Tuesday for College Day. Western Day was the focus for Wednesday, and Hawaiian Day took place on Thursday. For Color War Day on Friday, the four grade levels at AHS competed to show their school spirit by wearing the colors assigned to their classes.
For this year’s Homecoming Parade on Wednesday, Oct. 16, AHS DECA students picked the theme of “Bright Lights, Big City” for the floats. Once the theme was established, a single student team of nearly half a dozen kids from the Leadership class coordinated the Spirit Week activities. This student team created big city themes for each of the class floats. The senior class was assigned Seattle, and included the well-known Space Needle in its imagery, while the junior class recreated the London Bridge for their London theme. “Paris, the City of Love” was covered by the sophomore class, and the freshman class took on New York City, by featuring their representation of the Radio City Music Hall dancers. The officers for each class took on the coordination of building their respective floats under the direction of their class advisors, but all students were welcome to participate in the creation of the floats, as well as in the parade itself.
Adult volunteers drove their fancy polished cars with the Homecoming Court, who were dressed in their tuxes and gowns as part of the parade. The court was joined by the AHS Marching Band and Drama Club — the latter carrying signs to promote their play “The Diary of Anne Frank” — as well as the AHS Air Force Junior ROTC and the trucks carrying the AHS football players. Community members lined Olympic Avenue to greet the parade. AHS Secretary Dena Cave was elected Grand Marshall, and used her best hand-wave as she paraded through town.
Students and parents followed the parade up to Haller Middle School for the Pepination Assembly, where Homecoming King Josh Lorde and Queen Brenna Kamppi were named. The week wrapped up on Friday with the traditional chili feed, sponsored by the Booster Club, and the Homecoming game with Monroe. Monroe won the game, but it wasn’t due to a lack of school spirit on Arlington’s side.
Past Homecoming celebrations weren’t much different than they are now. Ann Thomas, who serves as the Athletic Secretary at Post Middle School, grew up in Arlington, and remembers local businesses donating supplies for the floats, which took several days to create. Arlington Lumber volunteered their lumberyard for the float-building, since there wasn’t any space at the old high school. Back then, floats were judged before the parade. During halftime at the football game, the floats were paraded around the track. AHS teacher Jason Klein remembers stiff competition between the classes during Homecoming Week.
“There were class themes, and the hallways of the old high school were decorated by each class to represent those themes,” said Klein, who also remembers the seniors being the winner of the weeklong competition most years.
Another past tradition in Arlington was the bonfire, held following the football game. It seems to be a fond memory of past Arlington graduates, but it was deemed unsafe in the early 1990s. Once the new high school was built, the administration decided not to move away from student-created floats, but due to the strong sense of tradition in the community, they were reinstated after one year.