Crafting traditions anew: Hoco 2021


Full court for 2021 Homecoming. Seniors Andrew Ogunmokun and Naomi Elliott were crowned Royalty.

Annabelle Baybordi, Reporter

The annual tradition of Homecoming had been uninterrupted for nearly 100 years, since its inception in 1921, until the global pandemic brought most traditions to a halt.  Fall 2021, however, alumni were welcomed back to celebrate a Homecoming that looked a little different.

One major change was that Homecoming Royalty replaced the traditional King and Queen system. The change was made to modernize terms in order to allow all students to feel accepted within their gender identities and able to participate. Community-wide, other public  schools in Bloomington-Normal also changed this celebration to Royalty.

Kirsten Hany, Student Senate sponsor, said the decision to change the title was brought up within the local schools to transition into a more inclusive model.

“It was something that administrators had talked about last year and this year leading up,” Hany said. “Those decisions were made on that administrative level to create a more inclusive system.” 

In addition to the modification of Royalty, spirit week underwent a few changes. Hany, in her new role as senate sponsor, cancelled the tradition of “I’m a little teapot.” In previous years, freshmen were expected to sing and dance to the song, “I’m a little teapot,” in front of the school’s homecoming pep rally. 

Steven Evans, the athletic director, said that. In previous years, the event had become too “handsy with the freshmen.” 

“They were pulling kids out and it created a concern with some faculty members and individuals that work in this building,” Evans said.

Not all students were happy with the change, including Naomi Elliott, Homecoming Royalty winner.

 “When I found out that the ‘Teapot’ tradition had been cancelled I felt sad because for me it was a great core memory that I will never forget,” Elliot said. ”It’s sad to think that from now on the incoming freshman won’t have the fun experience in the first stages of being a U-high Pioneer.”

Additional changes were implemented in order to adhere to COVID restrictions . Escorts and golf carts weren’t allowed in this year’s homecoming game. The pep rally, typically held in the large gym, was held outside at the Hancock Stadium in order for all students to be present. 

“I predict escorts will make a comeback in time,”Evans said. “And the school will allow members of the future court to pick an escort that attends U-High to walk them across the field”

Some traditions continued as normal such as the powder puff game, men’s volleyball, men’s cheer, and spirit week. All while wearing masks, of course.

Elliot expressed how important it was for her to be involved in this year’s homecoming spirit week after returning to school in person. 

“I felt like I needed to make up for our lost time. I made sure to participate in everything that I possibly could to get the most out of my final year at U-High,” she said.

This year’s themes for Spirit Week were pajama day, character day, country vs. country club, holiday day, and school spirit day.  Each year the classes compete regarding who has the most participating students for that day; there technically isn’t a prize beyond class pride.  By the end of the week, the freshmen were on top, but seniors won on a technicality.

This year each grade got to decorate a hall in the school and pick their themes. The theme of the homecoming dance was Traveling the Universe.

“I thought the decorations were cool,” Elliot said. “I thought it was nice that each class had their own hallway to decorate. Overall homecoming was a blast.”