The evolution of Homecoming

Elyssa Abbott, Reporter, Photographer

Hang on for a minute...we're trying to find some more stories you might like.

Email This Story

Every year, people look forward to homecoming, and the event has evolved tremendously throughout the years. The first homecoming happened over 100 years ago, at the University of Missouri in 1911. Students love the opportunity to dress up and take pictures and enjoy a night with their friends or, if lucky enough, a date.

“The homecoming dance is all part of the high school experience. I feel like everyone should go because you only have four homecomings in high school,” sophomore Sophia Green said.

Every year, NC’s homecoming centers around a theme that Tribal Connections (TC) releases to students two weeks before the dance. The theme for that year’s homecoming usually relates to pop culture influences during that time. For example, this year’s theme, Hollywood, connects to the large influence Hollywood holds on popular culture and teens today. Each year, TC chooses the theme from suggestions recorded on a Google Form at their annual summer retreat. The spirit week leading up to the dance provides an excuse to dress silly depending on the theme of that day.

Dating back to 1963, NC’s homecoming theme, “Wonderland by Night,” came from a popular song by Bert Kaempfert just three years prior (84, 85). The girls wore long ball gowns, unlike the dresses worn today, highlighting the differences of the decades.  

In 1978, the “Color My World” theme provided colorful dress-up days throughout the week leading up to the equally colorful dance (114). That year, the senior class won 1st place for their float in the Homecoming parade modeling their version of the Crayola Crayons.

“I would like to do the theme “Color My World” because the decorations could be creative and colorful,” Green said.  

1983, “The Land of Make Believe,” used Disney as the theme’s inspiration (176, 179). One day, students dressed up as Disney characters followed by a Video Character Day, Warrior Day, and Orange and White Day.

Rock and roll inspired the “Rocktoberfest” theme in 1991 which fit into the decade’s era perfectly (6, 7). The spirit week included dress-up days such as Concert T-shirt day, Western Day, and Red, White, and Blue Day.

In 1993, the theme titled “Almost a Black Tie Affair” modeled red carpet looks from that year (148, 151). Each day of spirit week pertained to a different movie sequel. For example, students based Monday’s outfits on Karate Kid 2.

Lastly the theme in 1999, “Hollywood,” repeats this year, almost 20 years later (86, 87). The music will likely differ with rap–the primary genre of songs played at this year’s homecoming. The dress styles will also likely fit shorter and tighter because of today’s social norms as well as Hollywood’s models.

AP Lang teacher and NC alumni Lindsay Theaker distinctly remembers a masquerade theme, a Casino Royale theme, and a tropical theme during her time spent as a student. Still true to this day, she describes the crowd as hot and sweaty. During her homecoming dances, freshmen often attended alongside nostalgic seniors and the planners of the event.

“I spent much of my time at the homecoming dance in the bathroom consoling friends whose boyfriends were mean to them on the night of homecoming,” Theaker said.

Along with the evolution of the themes, the spirit week in general changed with age. Also a current NC teacher and NC alumni, Samuel Fraundorf remembers a bonfire on campus after school hours on the Thursday before the game and dance. Boxes and wood pallets would form a huge pile, and someone placed a mannequin dressed as a football player from the opposing team on top of the pile, hyping up players, cheerleaders, and students for the game the following night. Alongside the bonfire, someone donated an old car and painted it with the other team’s colors and slogans. Students could pay to take a sledgehammer to the car. Trucks with Homecoming court replaced floats in the parade, but they could make a reappearance in the future.

“There would be members of the band playing, cheerleaders leading chants or cheers, and the various fall sports teams and other students there to watch as the bonfire was lit,” Fraundorf said.

However, one idea still holds true: Homecoming, both of yesterday and today, stands as one of the best parts of a student’s high school experience.

Print Friendly, PDF & Email