By Curt Yeomans
Searless Hathaway envisions a homecoming parade going down Mt. Zion Parkway toward Mt. Zion High School every year.
Her vision also includes tailgating before the game, with the community coming out to grill burgers, while mingling with members of the football team. In short, she wants a "college homecoming atmosphere" at Mt. Zion High School.
"Homecoming is when the alumni come back and help instill pride and ambition in the younger students," said Hathaway, the president of Mt. Zion High School's football booster club.
The school's booster club took a step toward realizing Hathaway's dream on Friday, when it hosted a tailgate party in the parking lot of Tara Stadium before the Bulldogs' homecoming game against Forest Park High School.
The event drew about 20 tailgaters at 4 p.m., but the booster club president believes the gathering will grow.
During the next week, three more schools in Clayton and Henry counties will celebrate homecoming. Another school, Eagle's Landing Christian Academy, will celebrate the event on Nov. 9. The other schools in both counties have already celebrated homecoming.
Homecoming is a time when students get to go all out for their schools and football teams. The week leading up to the games is usually filled with spirit-building activities, such as powder puff games, parades, pep rallies, tailgating and parades. It is also when students select the people who will represent the school as Homecoming Queen and King for the next 12 months.
At Mt. Zion, the anticipation among students built during "Spirit Week," where each day has a different theme. Monday was "Flashback Day;" Tuesday was "Tacky Day;" Wednesday was "Spirit Day," and Thursday was "Jersey Day."
A pep rally was held during sixth period on Thursday. Nothing was done at the school on Friday, because it was a teachers' workday.
"Homecoming is an opportunity to show your spirit for your team and your school," said Javairia Coleman, a sophomore at Mt. Zion High. "Spirit week is a really big deal for us, and the students have a lot of fun with it. A lot of us will paint our faces half red and half black on 'School Spirit Day,' because they are our school colors."
While Mount Zion celebrated homecoming on Friday, Dutchtown and Union Grove homecoming games will be played on Oct. 26. At Union Grove High School, students will also participate in theme days. The themes range from "Gender Bender Day" on Tuesday, to "Fairy Tale Day" on Wednesday, to "Wolverine Spirit Day" on Friday.
A pep rally will be held during school, on the day of the game. Union Grove will also have a parade going from the back of the school, through the parking lot, to the stadium, beginning at 6:45 p.m., on Oct. 26.
"A lot of what we do is based on tradition, such as each class decorating a hall, the pep rally and the parade," said Ellen Marston, one of the co-advisors for Union Grove's Student Council. "It's huge for the students, because they really get into the spirit of the week. For the faculty, and the students as well, it's nice to see past students come back, and how much those students cared about this school."
Morrow High School will celebrate homecoming with a parade starting at the intersection of Lake Harbin Road and Maddox Road at 4 p.m., on Oct. 26. The parade will travel down Maddox road until it reaches the high school.
Earlier in the week, the school will have theme days, in which students dress up to match the theme of the day. Wednesday, Oct. 24, is "Pajama Pants Day;" Thursday is "Twin Day;" and Friday is "Pride Day."
The homecoming game will be Saturday night, Oct. 27.