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Op-Ed: Behind the sign; the dark side of Homecoming

In the days before Homecoming with all of the excitement and suspense throughout the Greenhill campus, we asked ourselves and other members of the our community; what makes this tradition special? As freshmen, we couldn’t wait to experience this special time for ourselves. However, after watching the festivities unfold, we have concluded that some Homecoming traditions reflect a level of exclusivity, that is not present in other aspects of life at Greenhill.  

We are talking about two traditions in particular; public proposals and Homecoming court.

“If a Homecoming proposal is done in public, there’s a lot of pressure to not hurt the person asking since most of the time the person asking has spent some time making a poster or buying gifts,” said senior Christine Wu. “It feels rough to be ‘that person’ and reject someone who was brave enough to pop the question in public.”

We have found that public proposals do not allow someone to say yes without feeling the eyes of the whole high school. Homecoming proposals, which formally began after the theme was announced, take the form of big signs, food, flowers, and stuffed animals.  These proposals normally consist of a large crowd oohing and ahing, and an awkward picture. Whether it is a boy or a girl who is asked, our concern that there is a stigma that you must  say yes.

In an attempt to mitigate the “crisis” of being turned-down, many students have asked their dates weeks, sometimes months, before the theme was announced. These “soft-asks”  supposedly take the pressure away of to say, “no.” “Soft-asks” try and fail to take the pressue off people. 

As the other iconic high school tradition, the homecoming court is a big deal. Members of the Greenhill community, including teachers and students, believe the homecoming court represents an emphasis on heteronomative couples in the Greenhill community, to the exclusion of non-traditonal relationships.

“We need to change the homecoming court,” said Jack Oros, dean of students. I don’t know what we are going to do, but to say ‘this is the list of guys and this is the list of girls’ is wrong. There is just too much fluidity. This is something that has been on my mind this year especially. With the number of kids that are gender fluid, we really need to rethink what we are doing.”

Greenhill is a diverse community where students are taught to celebrate such diversity and move away from society’s traditional idea of a relationship.

“I can see how some may think that Homecoming Court can display traditional gender roles, but I personally don’t,”  said Megan Olomu, senior class president and one of the school’s two homecoming queens. “I see it as peers elevating other peers they admire and respect. I feel that the girl/boy categories are just to keep the numbers even.”

The biggest question we face now is how to move away from the exclusivity without dismantling traditions beloved within the Greenhill campus. As we continue to change to become more welcoming, inclusive, and diverse, we hope homecoming changes with it.


Read about the 2018 Homecoming theme here.

Story by Caroline Greenstone and Cameron Kettles

Photo by Caroline Greenstone

  1. Spencer 12 months ago

    good stuff

  2. Tom Perryman 11 months ago

    Very thoughtful and balanced exploration of two tricky – and in my opinion – troubling “traditions.” Thank you for handling these subjects with maturity and fairness.

  3. Petunia Grace 8 months ago

    Very nice article. Gave me a new perspective.

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