The Best of Senior Homecoming

October 12, 2012

I promise this is the last post about Homecoming. I promise.

Today is Friday, October 12th. The day of the Homecoming game. Earlier, we had our 2012 Homecoming Assembly and later tonight, Gull Lake will pack the stands for our Homecoming Football game. School Spirit, though it barely flickers at Gull Lake High school, was certainly apparent earlier today and throughout this week. And, what’s cool, is that School Spirit was shown in ways that the school administrator’s didn’t impress upon us. It was shown in the excitement of the Band as they played in the halls and the assembly, it was shown in the spontaneous and heart-warming “Have a Safe Homecoming” speech by some teachers, it was shown in the enthusiasm of Dress Up Days, (though, I suppose that was imposed by the administration) it was shown in the Cross Country Teams running of the Game Ball, it was shown in the Cheerleaders routine, it was shown in the Dance class’ flash mob, and it was shown, most importantly, in who we elected as our Homecoming Royalty.

Homecoming is a special time in High School. It’s a time for every area of the school to come together under one common goal: To have a good time. And that is what School Spirit is all about. It’s the combination of every student and teacher in an effort to make their school environment more enjoyable.

Anyway, today was fun. Classes were shortened, people were decked out in Gull Lake attire, it was hard to find someone who wasn’t smiling, and the Senior Cross Country Boys and I got to run the Game Ball from the assembly and off towards Loy Norrix High School. The Cross Country Team has this tradition where we run the Homecoming Game Ball from the opposing school to Gull Lake and when we finish, we run a lap around the Track and hand the football off to the official to start the game. However, Loy Norrix is so close that we didn’t have to start at the opposing High School (nor did we have to start absurdly early). In fact, this year we’re running the Game Ball to Loy Norrix and back all before the game begins. And the Senior Boys got to start the run off right by sprinting out of the gym at the start of the assembly.

Another reason that today really stuck out in my mind was a speech Mr. Burghardt gave to us as a precaution to any risky activities we may have had planned. He talked about the dangers of driving late on Homecoming night because, even if we weren’t drunk, someone else may be. He showed us a sonogram of the baby that he recently learned he was about to have and told us the obligations that come with a child. He even discussed and discouraged the more obscene methods of dancing that are frequented at our Homecoming dances. The part that stood out to me, though…and the part that really made me listen and actually made me see Mr. Burghardt and teachers in a new light, was when he said: “I had this professor in college…and she told me that, if I was a teacher long enough, the day would come when I’d have to go to one of my student’s funerals. And that thought is so scary, it makes my heart race and my voice shake.” And I’d never really thought about that. About a teacher being so affected by a student’s death. It makes sense now, of course, I’d just never thought about it. In a way, I suddenly feel this soft spot growing for every teacher in my school. If any of us students were to pass away, it would be foolish to think that there is a teacher at Gull Lake who wouldn’t suffer.

And then there was Alex.

If the election of Alex into Homecoming Royalty doesn’t prove the power of School Spirit, I don’t know what does. The Senior class came together as a whole under the goal of electing Alex, a girl with Down’s Syndrome, into the coveted position of Homecoming Queen. The desire to be Queen sprung from Alex’s mouth and the Senior Class was more than happy to comply. This, I believe, is a true show of not only School Spirit, but Human Spirit. I think this shows the collectiveness of humanity and our ability to care for one another as equals and as compassionate beings. On the other hand, it was also a very easy decision to make. There wasn’t a single objection made when Khelsea and Hadlee proposed the idea to all of us. Who could possibly deserve Queen more than this unbelievably loving, enthusiastic, and spirited young girl? Sometimes, it’s hard to be proud of Gull Lake. Other times, it can be quite easy to look at Gull Lake and say: “Yeah. Yeah, that’s my High School.” Because we made the right choice on who should be elected Queen. Because we made the choice based off of who was the most deserving. Because we chose only the kindest of souls to represent our school.

In the end, does it matter if we win tonight or not? Not really. Because Homecoming week is about so much more than a Football game. It’s about the collective body of students saying that their proud to represent Gull Lake. It’s about finding joy in stepping out of your comfort zone and trying on something absurd for Dress-Up Days. It’s about discovering School Spirit in ways you never imagined. And it’s about making people’s dreams come true.

Tonight, we’ll crown the most deserving Homecoming Queen in Gull Lake history. Tomorrow, we’ll dance the night away in celebration. And, come Monday, we’ll all have the memories.

-Brian Wiegand (An Idiot, A Superman in training)


10 Responses to “The Best of Senior Homecoming”

  1. BLantinga Says:

    Very touching! As an alumni of GL, and a teacher, you make US proud!

  2. debikil Says:

    Wow, Brian. How eloquent and eye-opening. And, yes, I agree with everything you said about Alex. What a sweetie and huge heart she has! And, yes, we teachers grieve every single student we lose. I have been to more student funerals than I care to remember. All were very, very difficult, especially as you watched the family and the friends grieving.
    Be safe! Tonight is a big night, too. Please be safe.
    Debi Kilmartin

  3. Lori Dunn Says:

    You all make me proud to be an alumna of Gull Lake! Congratulations on recognizing what is important and getting beyond yourselves!

  4. ckamerman Says:

    Brian, I do not know you but I live here in the community and both of my children graduated from GLHS. You are, by far, the most amazing example of the type of student that Gull Lake is so proud of. You have written an extraordinary blog post exemplifying exactly the awesomeness that Gull Lake strives to attain! Congratulations on a job well done. You and GLHS are prime examples of what a great high school should be! Thank you!

  5. Karen White Says:

    I graduated from Harper Creek a long time ago. I now live in Galesburg Augusta area. After reading this, all I can say is you must really make your parents very proud and with this outlook, you surely have a great future before you. Congratulations! Karen White
    October 13, 2012

  6. Rose K. Says:

    You are amazing Brian!!

  7. Karen Longanecker Says:

    I am the mother of a nearly 40 year old man that just happens to have a developmental disability and has lived the last 20 years in his own apartment with LOTS of support and is known far and wide in his community. It is the feeling of belonging and being accepted that has made this possible. You and your other classmates are making this possible for Alex…she is on her path of being accepted and being a part of everyday life…those same things that we all want. I commend your parents for instilling those things in you!

  8. maggie Says:

    Bubba- Very well written! I enjoyed reading it. Very wise words Love and miss you! Thank you for sharing!

  9. Nick Says:

    If you have a free moment after saving Ms. Lane for the millionth time I would love for you to come to my blog and accept an award!!

  10. tauromaja Says:

    It is really refreshing to know that there are people who still value the human spirit. Sometimes we just get so beaten down with people being just straight up mean that we forget that we’ve got to look out for each other. It makes me really happy to know that there is hope and that gesture is going to stay with you forever and will affect others in ways you can’t ever possibly dream of.

    Good luck to you. And never falter. You are who you are and that is a thing you should be very proud of.

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