St. Helens High School celebrates Homecoming Week virtually
St. Helens High School didn't let a pandemic stop it from holding its annual homecoming week. But COVID-19 did force a number of adjustments, according to the school's activities director, Noelle Freshner.
For those not familiar with the annual festivities of homecoming, Freshner explains, "In a regular year, homecoming is a week of celebration. It's a chance to welcome everyone back for the school year and to celebrate everything that is St. Helens High School."
But this is, by no means, a regular year.
"This year is different, we don't have a home football game to center our activities around," Freshner said. "We're not in school for live events like dress-up days or the annual homecoming assembly."
This year, homecoming week took place from Oct. 12 to Oct. 16.
Freshner said. "Student leadership wants to maintain our traditions as much as we possibly can during all of this. ... We took a look at the entire week and thought, 'OK, what can we keep or what can we change to make it work?'"
She said adjustments were made, including online dress-up days using social media. Events culminated Friday night with the virtual homecoming royalty coronation on YouTube.
"We started our court nomination process for our eight-member homecoming court in mid-September," she said. "Homecoming court is an honor at St. Helens, a way to honor some of our students with really great grades and attitudes. They are nominated and narrowed down by the staff and the students."
Two students, Dakota Worlitz and Emma Korpela, were crowned "Homecoming Royals" at the Friday, Oct. 16, event. Other members of the Homecoming Court were Chayton Leake-Morison, Cameron Sexton, Kasten Warner, Savannah Moore, Gaven Kust and Maria Reardon.
During this year's homecoming, adjustments were made to make activities more digital.
"As for dress-up days, we did a virtual Spirit Week," she said. "We had four different dress-up days. We had a place online for them to go. On Pajama Day, people took pictures of themselves in pajamas and they put them on the website that we gave them."
Freshner said, "We also added an online scavenger hunt this year as an activity for people to do during the week. We've never done a scavenger hunt before. That's been pretty cool."
The scavenger hunt involved students traveling to 15 spots throughout the city where they took selfies.
As an added feature, Freshner said, "We had two days of beginner yoga classes offered to our students. We have a teacher at the school who offered two yoga sessions that people came to."
This year's Homecoming events were student-driven.
"All of these projects, the scavenger hunt, the dress-up days, doing the social media stuff, it's all student-based projects," Freshner said. "My senior class officers are in charge of Homecoming, so they brainstormed all of this and facilitated all of this."
In a normal year, Homecoming Court members are out in the community with donation buckets. They sport tiaras and sashes, asking for donations to support various charitable causes.
"This year, we picked the Salvation Army wildfire relief response as our fundraising organization," Freshner said. "They're competing against each other to raise the most money for this important cause. Their goal was $2,000."
You can donate on the St. Helens High School ASB website.
Youngsters can still have fun during homecoming week.
Freshner said, "We're just trying to come up with safe activities that the kids can do that are a little different than what they would just be doing on their normal days. We hope we provided some good opportunities — we just hope the kids want to buy into that and be a part of it and do something a little different."
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