Monroe High School seniors, including Brian Pino (center in white), dance during a kickoff assembly Friday morning at the school to promote homecoming events scheduled for the upcoming week. To avoid the popularity contest that typically occurs to pick a homecoming king and queen, Monroe High School decided to change the traditional format by nominating 40 students total from all fall sports and clubs. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

Monroe High School seniors, including Brian Pino (center in white), dance during a kickoff assembly Friday morning at the school to promote homecoming events scheduled for the upcoming week. To avoid the popularity contest that typically occurs to pick a homecoming king and queen, Monroe High School decided to change the traditional format by nominating 40 students total from all fall sports and clubs. (Ian Terry / The Herald)

At Monroe High, homecoming’s more than a popularity contest

MONROE — The students dreamed of a different high school homecoming. They wanted to see more artists, comedians and mathematicians in the court.

So, they scrapped tradition.

This year, the associated student body at Monroe High School encouraged each club and sports team to nominate two students thought deserving of recognition. A total of 40 were selected to the homecoming court.

The criteria for nomination was good character.

Humility, service, kindness and honesty.

“These are the things you need to be a good human,” ASB Adviser Jaime Johnson said.

Senior Class President Ethan Medlin served on last year’s homecoming committee. He initially wasn’t interested in planning a second homecoming. It tended to be a popularity contest.

Ethan and three other students developed the new nomination system to engage the entire school in the homecoming festivities.

The students who are usually elected for homecoming court, often football or volleyball aces, can still participate because they work hard, Ethan said. The goal is simply to give everyone a chance, including those more drawn to advanced math classes.

“I’m seeing the nerdy kids who wouldn’t have been on the court. Now they are,” Ethan said.

This year’s homecoming court represents all aspects of the school.

Monroe teachers nominated two life skills students for homecoming duke and duchess. They will be honored at the Oct. 21 football game during the halftime show.

“These are the kids who never get acknowledged for the great things they do,” ASB President Meredith Teague said.

The student group notified each nominee to the court via “owl post.” They hand-delivered white balloons decorated like owls with parchment scroll invitations. That was a nod to the fictional mail service from the Harry Potter books. The childhood favorite for many high school students inspired this year’s homecoming theme.

Next week the court will participate in a series of competitions. Points will be allocated to nominees based on performance. A homecoming king and queen are expected to be announced by the end of the week.

The first competition emphasizes service. Court members plan their own food drives for the Sky Valley Food Bank.

On Monday and Tuesday, the student body is set to vote the court down to 12 members. These students are expected to proceed into Friday’s pep assembly games comprised of physical, mental and creative tasks.

The two students with the highest scores at the conclusion of the games will be crowned the homecoming monarchy.

ASB leaders also coordinated other events for students and families. A coronation dessert is scheduled for Monday at 6 p.m. The annual homecoming dance is Saturday, Oct. 22.

Johnson arrived to work by 6:30 a.m. each day this week. Committee members joined her for the early morning prep work, and watched the sun rise through the classroom windows. Others stayed after school to hang homecoming decorations.

“It’s worth it,” sophomore Maelyn George said.

When a large portion of the ASB class graduates in June, she plans to continue the new homecoming tradition.

”We’re building a common experience for everyone in the community,” Johnson said.

Caitlin Tompkins: 425-339-3192; ctompkins@heraldnet.com.

This story has been modified to correct the date of the homecoming dance.

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