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Midvale Journal

Hillcrest High homecoming traditions remain, yet change

Nov 01, 2022 08:04PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

At halftime of the homecoming football game, the top 10 homecoming student nominees and their escorts walked onto the sidelines of the field.

The long-standing tradition of naming a homecoming court was anticipated.

The school’s first royalty was named in 1963 when the school opened. A Senior Hop king and queen, a Football Dance’s king and queen and a Sweetheart’s Ball “Most Preferred Boy” were named that year.

Sixty years later, the class of 2023 is honoring those traditions, yet updating it naming homecoming royalty rather than a king and queen. Last spring, they did the same, naming junior prom royalty, to be more inclusive.

“We just want to make it royalty, so everyone is included,” Principal Greg Leavitt said. “We have the same tradition where the adviser or coach along with the students within the organization pick their senior representative or nominee.”

Each senior nominee parades on the track during the tradition of Burning of the H homecoming pep rally the day before the football game. After an initial vote, the top 20 candidates work together to make some fun videos, so students get to know them a little better, and are shown at the homecoming assembly on game day. Following the assembly, the student body votes.

“I don’t think differentiating between royalty and the king or queen really matters that much,” said senior Daniel Yi, who was escorted by his nine-year-old brother, Chrissy. “I thought it was cute that we wore matching suits. He said he’d do it if I bought him a pack of Pokémon cards.”

Yi, who has missed previous homecoming celebrations because he played football on the team, said it was a “cool experience” and he didn’t expect to make it to the top 10, let alone the top three.

“I was surprised,” he said. “I remember my crown didn’t fit. It would not go any tighter; it fell over my forehead.”

Yi, who was one of the representatives for boys’ tennis, along with Michelle Rodriguez, one of the representatives from Peer Leadership Team, and Tristan Badillo, from boys soccer, were named court members.

For the most part, Leavitt said there hasn’t been much change in the traditions since when he became the school principal in 2015.

“I’ve always been amazed at Hillcrest simplicity of homecoming and the traditions that stayed around ever since I’ve been there. I haven’t changed them, so they continued from year to year,” he said. “From picking their representatives from clubs, to having the homecoming walk, to having the burning of the H to the secret dancer in the men’s drill, to decorating the halls, the student body officers put it together and builds it up from year to year. This year’s SBOs have just done a great job from having a theme for the homecoming each day to giving support at the game.”

Craig Conder, who graduated in 1978, said he remembers students selected a homecoming queen when he was a student.

“It was at the homecoming assembly that we’d introduce all the nominees from different clubs and then at halftime of the game, we’d crown the queen,” said the president of Hillcrest High Alumni Association. “Homecoming was more of a tradition that included alumni then.”

With the introduction of Hillcrest High Alumni Association in 2019, Conder added more traditions. That year, the Association honored a distinguished alum and young alum with awards and introduced a student body president 50 years prior to the current one.

Leavitt said that it’s been a welcome addition.

“The alumni committee is somewhat dependent and independent of the school, and they’ve done a really nice job of securing a little piece of history during every homecoming,” Leavitt said. “This year, they brought back the SBO president (Brent Reed) from 50 years ago, and he told students at the assembly that his coach told him he should run. Initially, he said no, but he finally came around to the idea of running. It was the morning of the election, and he parked a big bulldozer right in front of school and put a big sign on it with for his name and he won, because it was a unique campaign. He did a nice job connecting with the kids.”

For the most part, Leavitt said, traditions are what makes homecoming special.

“I don’t know who started all those traditions, but they’ve stayed pretty stable, and it’s what our students and alumni look forward to,” he said. “It makes it a fun week.”