The behind the scenes of homecoming stress

October 21, 2019

By Bella Coulter 

I stand on a chair and blink rapidly as yet another piece of plaster falls in my eyes as I try to cram a piece of paper into the ceiling. I leap down, triumphant as the piece stays and one more section of the wall is covered by our mediocre artwork. I glance at the clock on my phone and my eyes bug out. 6:37?? I looked desperately down the hallway, trying in vain to see how we’re going to finish this in the next three hours. 

I push down the anxiety as it starts to rise in my stomach and start yelling orders. We have to get this done.

So, here we are. Another year, another fantastic PA homecoming, except this year there’s the added stress of being a senior on top of everything else, as well as the legacy of last year’s hallway failure (finishing LAST!) looming over our heads. Every hallway day is a mad rush to fight the clock as we attempt to crank out as many props as we can, so as to not be humiliated once again. 

In addition to homecoming being magical, this year it has to be absolutely perfect, because after this, that’s it. Wonderful.

I have to admit, whenever people say there’s nothing like PA homecomings, they’re not wrong. Especially for those of us who actually put in all the work behind the scenes to make our homecoming so legendary.

To put it simply: I. Am. STRESSED.

Year after year, I have devoted countless hours to working on homecoming hallways, the homecoming float, finding the perfect dress, organizing photo opportunities with my friends, all while trying to handle the normal demands of my week. This year in particular, I am especially weighed down by responsibilities because of my newfound duties of class officer. 

The homecoming week started with a day off from school because of Columbus Day. Yay! More time to get homework done and manage the upcoming week’s stress right? Wrong.

I spent the majority of my day off at another officer’s house, working tirelessly on the float that we had three people show up for: two of whom were officers. By the time I got home, it was almost dinner time, and I grinded for five plus hours on my virtual day assignments and my normal homework, and I still didn’t finish.

So now I am heading into the already-insane homecoming week with homework not completed. Great.

Tuesday I have a dermatologist appointment, so I will be leaving school early and won’t be able to attend homecoming hallways. Does this mean I get a small break? Of course not! My dad and I have to finish the wood 3-D elements that we promised to supply for my section of the hallway as soon as I get home. Oh, and I have two hours of dance on Tuesdays. So when will I be able to do my homework? Honestly, I have no idea, please, I’m looking for suggestions.

Wednesday is the bonfire. Joy. So, I have to stay after school until roughly 5 p.m. for homecoming hallways, walk over and get dinner from Chipotle and then walk back over to participate in the feeble flame surrounded by caution tape that we like to call a bonfire.

Thursday kind of speaks for itself. It’s the hallway day, meaning we have to stay after school until 10 p.m. to work on our homecoming hallway. This year is particularly stressful considering the Class of 2020 had a less than superb placing last year in the homecoming hallways competition, which has caused other students (and even some teachers) to belittle us, speaking in condescending voices saying that we’re doing a great job. 

My best friend Abby, is especially stressed. Since she’s the class president, she feels that it’ll reflect really badly on her if we place last. Again. 

Finally Friday will roll around, but will I get a break after all that hard work? Nope! I’ll have to stay after school and piece the float together, which is another point of extreme stress. Last year was the first year my class had ever put together a float, and no one gave us any guidance as to what we should be creating. We took a shot in the dark, and missed the mark horribly. This year, we’ve really had to step it up and create a massive float that everyone will be able to admire. 

At the expense of my sanity, of course.

And then finally, finally, finally, Saturday. The sweet few hours of bliss Saturday morning, where I can hopefully sleep off the 17 eyebags I developed over the week and desperately try to reverse the damage stress has caused on my appearance. And then, the dance. The one part of the week I actually look forward to.

And then the magic is broken on Sunday with my eight-hour work shift waiting for me after church!

And, of course, amid all this chaos, the workload never lets up. All the rumors about IB homework are true, and none of it gets any better during homecoming week. Teachers just send us off with some heartfelt condolences: “I know it’ll be hard since it’s homecoming week, but you guys can do it!” Can we? Can we really?

At the end of the week, though, it all becomes finally worth it. The feeling I get at the pep rally when they announced the Class of 2020 as the winner is unrivaled, and screaming at the top of my lungs next to all the people who made homecoming amazing is something I’ll never forget.

PA homecoming really is the experience of a lifetime.

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By Abby Hendrickson

Bella and I gasp for air as we cram the last 8’ by 4’ into the back of my van. Mr. Hunter (our class sponsor) had picked up our wood order for the float construction, but we were left to transport it all from the back of his truck to mine. Somehow, it is always the two of us stuck carrying out class responsibilities. After half an hour of lifting all the heavy wood, we realized it wouldn’t fit. At that point, another officer and Mr. Hunter showed up to help remove all the hard work we just accomplished. The morning of our “Lazy Day” (as deemed by SCA) was spent sweating over slabs of wood much larger than us. How fitting. People can say what they want about me, but they can’t say I do not do the MOST for our class. 

It is finally that time. It is the last week we can work on hallways and to put it simply: I am losing my mind. Since being inducted in June, I have been storing cardboard like a chipmunk with nuts. My attic is over-run, and I am on my parents last nerve. Things are getting pretty crazy. 

My siblings have actually started teasing me about the state of my minivan, as it has been jam packed with cardboard and other supplies since the beginning of September. They say I love my school too much and they aren’t wrong. How kind and supportive they are.

I am literally pouring every essence of my being into hallways. I will NOT go down without a fight. Since our class lost to the entire school as juniors last year, I have been determined to lead them into the biggest comeback yet. Fourth to First. 

I cannot even begin to explain how stressed I am. I have to worry about and oversee T-shirt sales, the construction and production of the float, the hallways, and still try to keep up with my school work (as too many teachers are still assigning too much). Basically I am running on a maximum of five hours of sleep each day.

My friends have been so supportive, devoting themselves and any extra spare time they have to work on the hallways. A lot of the time though, I still find myself being the last one there. Scrubbing up the paint stains scattered across the entire hallway. By myself. 

One time, all of the heavy rolls of paper were still out. And all the paint cans. And the boxes of supplies. Basically, no one cleaned any of their stuff up. All the officers had left, and I watched with a heavy heart as the last four people meandered down the hall laughing. Once I saw their cars pull out (through the foyer windows), my eyes welled up with tears. I accepted the fact that I would have to put everything away by myself, and as a consequence, I would not be home until 6:30 in the evening. 

As I knelt over the paint cans defeated, my phone rang. One boy had forgotten his car keys and needed to be let back in the school. Upon seeing the mess I had become, he helped me clean up the entirety of the hallway. Chivalry is not dead yet. 

It is absolutely incredible how many times I have heard my name shouted out. Hundreds in the course of a week. Anytime someone cannot locate a specific paint color or brush, they come ask me. Even though I am clearly working on something and do not have the slightest clue as to where the desired object is. While it does only add to the stress, I can’t help but feeling good about it. They trust me, and come to me for direction. That was not something that happened between our class and past presidents. So, even though it is slightly frustrating, I always stop what I am doing and do my best to help them find the singular art supply they are searching for. 

I know to people (like my family) who do not understand the significance of the hallway tradition, my stress and hard work seems excessive and unnecessary. But, I want to do my very best as president.

I can’t let my class down in their final year. It is simply not an option.

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