Back in 2018 around this time of year, I remember anxiously waiting for homecoming week. Entering high school itself, I finally got to go to high school dances. Now, as I approach my last ever Homecoming dance, I can’t help but reflect on the difference of experiences I had in the past.

Freshman year, my friends and I eagerly waited for October to come around so that we could start preparing for our first-ever homecoming dance. Due to only having previously experienced socials and Semi-formal, homecoming week was something that we had been dreaming about all of middle school. From spending hours to find a dress, to taking a long search on the web to find a nail design that perfectly matched our dresses, homecoming had been a month-long preparation. I remember when it had finally arrived, it was luckily everything I had imagined. 

Avonews Fall 18 Final (click for the Avonews 2018 edition covering Homecoming)

As Sophomore year had come around, again Homecoming was just as exciting. However, with the experience from the year prior, the preparation had not taken nearly as long. Yes, it was still just as ‘hyped up,’ but it had not been something that was talked about for over a month. To my surprise, the actual experience of homecoming itself was not as great as my Freshman year. I believe it was because it was something that I had dwelled on for so long years before, but for my Sophomore year, it just seemed to come and go so quickly. It took about 2 weeks to prepare for and there wasn’t that anticipation leading up to it. 

2019 HoCo Pep Rally

Unexpectedly, COVID had stripped away any possible chance of a school dance from me my Junior year. I remember sitting in my room during ‘Spirit week’ getting emails telling students to submit pictures of them in their Pajamas from home for PJ day. Little did they know I had been wearing PJ’s for the past two months straight during ‘class.’ There had been some sort of bonfire for the Seniors at the time so that they at least had some sort of ‘homecoming’ experience. My friends and I had debated throwing our own get-together so that we didn’t miss out on too much either, but the COVID cases spike at the time made that a definite no.

2020 not-HoCo – a look at a typical day at home for AHS students: staring at a chromebook for one more day at home, during the pre-vax COVID days

And now, as I approach my final homecoming, I can’t help but get those same Freshman year jitters here during Spirit week. Maybe it is because I had been virtual all last year, and feel like I had missed out on so much, but it’s nice to be back to these normal exciting October days. Yet, with the workload of senior year, and college applications, I must admit that finding a dress had been the least of my worries in early October. Around a week ago, I had finally decided it was time to get my last Homecoming dress ever. 

Christa Chao and Jackson Horigan in the 2019 HoCo Pep Rally

I am enjoying the way that they changed Spirit week up a bit. I am excited to see the way the floats turn out. At first, I was a bit disappointed when I had heard the news that the dance would be held at the school this year. It had upset me that I won’t be able to experience a homecoming at a convention center ever again. Yet, I am still eager to see how it turns out, and now I am even in a way glad that it’s going to be in the gym. I feel like it’s going to bring a nostalgic feeling to the dance, and even bring back memories of Semi formal from middle school. 

For those of you who have more post-covid years ahead of you, I have a word of advice, enjoy it. I know school dances may seem silly to some, or even over-hyped, but these little dances are going to be core memories we have from high school years down the line. Make the most out of it, these mid-October Spirit week days are some of the best days of the school year, and times like these are even more valuable now after the chaotic 2020-21 school year.

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