Voices Of The Student Body: The Homecoming Dance

Voices+Of+The+Student+Body%3A+The+Homecoming+Dance

Kaia Wirth, Editor-in-chief

Amidst the unpredictable recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, high schools have come to various solutions regarding the safety and wellbeing of their student body and faculty. The Kennebunk School Board’s decision to cancel this year’s homecoming dance as a preventative measure against the possible spread of the virus has left the community divided; and as homecoming weekend creeps closer, some students had an interest to share their views and opinions on the issue. 

As editor, I want to ensure that the various and contrasting voices of the Kennebunk student body are heard and respected, and so I leave all the contributions anonymous (except for the grade level) and free from personal bias-each piece of writing remains as they were when they were submitted. 

 

Submission #1, a KHS sophomore 

I am very disappointed in the school’s decision to cancel homecoming. The homecoming dance could have been done safely, outside, with masks required. Students have been gathering together without masks outside at football games. The whole school gathers in the halls and in classrooms every day. The homecoming dance at KHS could have been put together with safety precautions in place. According to our school’s latest pool testing sample, no one has tested positive for COVID-19, and 70% of KHS students are vaccinated. Those who are not vaccinated could have gotten a negative COVID test beforehand. Now, students are throwing their own homecomings and that could be even more dangerous. Keep in mind, football games, in-person schooling, and attending a homecoming dance are all personal choices. There is always the option not to go. As a KHS student, I think the administration should have addressed its student body and their families before making such a decision. I truly believe Kennebunk High School could have run a safe and enjoyable homecoming dance. 

 

Submission #2, a KHS senior

In my opinion, I feel as though the homecoming dance is one of the better things that is happening at the high school. I am in complete agreement that covid is still a pressing issue and one that shouldn’t be joked about or forgotten. But I feel as though, at least for the senior class, this could potentially be the last time we get to have a high school dance. As of right now, prom is still on, but in the up and coming months, that could very well change. 

 

I understand and respect everyone’s opposing viewpoints that say that this could spread covid. But so is coming back to school or sitting at the lunch table with 5 others with no mask and eating food.  What I don’t respect is people on social media bashing and putting those of us down who are using this as something to be thankful for and something to bring some positivity to Kennebunk. I understand that everyone is entitled to their own opinions, but why are some of us being put down because of our opinion or our decision to go to the homecoming dance? 

 

I think that the dance is something that we should be thankful for. Whether or not you choose to go is completely up to you. I can see why the parents have decided to create a dance for us. The parents saw that we were able to have a homecoming parade where we are all close to each other as well as the homecoming football game where we all get to stand in the bleachers together, but no dance, and wanted to give us the choice of having one. 

 

Submission #3, a KHS senior 

I’m bummed I didn’t get a senior homecoming, but I understand that a high school dance is way less important than the health and safety of a county full of high-risk people. To be completely honest, I think everyone who’s fighting so hard for us to have a homecoming needs to take a nice long look at the privilege they have that allows them to worry more about their social life than their actual health and safety.

 

Submission #4, a KHS junior 

Music is echoing while feet are dancing, kids excitedly chatting amongst themselves, a silver lining should be found in this absurd start to a school year. It should be a homecoming. It shouldn’t be a question of when or where. Why can we go to school, inside, wearing masks, distancing ourselves or even go to a football game, sit in crowded bleachers, mask-less, and not socially distanced, yet we can’t have a homecoming dance? We have had so much taken away from valuable and necessary interactions with peers and friends because of covid. So why are we losing more?  A homecoming dance should be happening. Homecoming is such a key part of the social aspect of high school. It gives kids a chance to all be together and have fun dancing and being with everyone. If students’ mental health is so worrisome, then why are we taking away an opportunity to help them? Just being able to be together and interact with others can majorly boost one’s mental health and help relieve stress. I know I am not the only one who is frustrated and upset that we are not having a traditional homecoming dance at KHS this year.

 

Submission #5, a KHS senior 

To be honest, I never much enjoyed homecoming. Too many people, too much sweat, and too expensive. Though it was fun to hang with friends, I never put too much thought into the dances. When the school banned the homecoming dance for this year, it seemed weird considering the football games and sports that went on with no masks. But, as that thought came into my mind, the more it made sense not to have either. Both involved heavy risks of spreading covid considering the amount of people and lack of masks. Even if we had a dance outside with masks, it still did not seem fun or safe. When the school said no homecoming, it was in our best interest. So we could still go to school and stay safe, especially to those unvaccinated in the elementary schools. No homecoming was the right call. 

When the parents and students started getting mad, it made less and less sense considering most involved members of the freshman and sophomore class. They have never been to a homecoming but they still have the time to experience it in better circumstances. I didn’t understand the need for one let alone that we “deserved it.” I feel we could still and should still be doing better with cases going up. When the petition was formed, I laughed and brushed it off as a joke, but when the fundraiser and invitation were sent out, it was no longer funny. Even though the people I surround myself with would never go to this party, we still have to attend school with these kids. Kids who throw, technically, a big party the night before school with no mask mandates. Kids who don’t need vaccination status to attend or a negative test. Kids who have to come to my school the next day without the ability to test negative in time. 

The homecoming the parents are throwing is probably the worst idea I’ve ever heard. The whole school, way above the holding capacity of the location, is invited with little to no covid guidelines to keep them protected. To add to it, it is on a Sunday night so the people attending don’t have time to get a covid test before attending school the next morning. I am honestly disgusted by the lack of empathy these students and parents have. I am honestly scared to come to school the next day. I am honestly considering not coming to school until the kids attending show negative covid tests. 

The school is not hosting a homecoming for a reason. 

Covid is not over and is very much still existing.  

 

Submission #6, a KHS senior 

I personally believe that having the dance is a good thing. Although there are obvious reasons why people may believe otherwise, I think it is something we need as kids who have been separated from each other as a whole group for over a year. We all know the risks going into this dance, but it is something that we really wanted to do and are excited about. We are high school kids. It’s important for us to get to have as normal of a high school experience as possible while under our unfortunate circumstances making sure we are staying safe. Nobody has to go, it’s an option and all the people that are going are aware of the risks.

 

Submission #7, a KHS junior 

I think that our official homecoming at KHS was canceled for a reason, that being a good reason. We are in the middle of a deadly pandemic that is not over, even with the vaccines. People are prioritizing a dance over people’s health. I understand why one would be upset about not having a dance, especially for seniors, but that is just the sad reality of what is going on around us. Having this dance (especially when masks or vaccination is not required) is putting everyone in danger. 

 

Submission #8, a KHS senior

Kennebunk High School should have been able to throw a safe and successful homecoming dance for its students. As a student at KHS, I believe the school has failed to make up for all that COVID-19 has put us through over the last year and a half. We have lost a majority of our high school experience to the pandemic, and the school hasn’t done enough to protect its students from suffering both academically and socially. We’ve canceled athletic events, dances, spirit weeks, and so much more. While I am aware of the dangers of COVID-19, and more than anything want to keep people safe, I still believe that simple and effective precautions could have allowed for a homecoming dance this year. 

Our student body has a 70% vaccination rate and pool testing is occurring weekly. We are in-person learning full time now, and so what is the difference between that and a dance? It is very unlikely that the entire school would have gone to homecoming, as that has never been the case. Masks could have been required, it could have been done outside, and those who found themselves at risk always have the option of staying home. Instead, parents and students have branched off and put together their own homecomings. They are without masks, free of supervision, and could end up more catastrophic than had the school done it itself. Students have already missed out on almost two years of normalcy. We have given up so much in that time while making a great effort to keep our community safe. The students of KHS deserved this dance.

 

Submission #9, a KHS junior 

Homecoming. I think it’s weird. It may be rough to say that I feel no pity for students younger than me who use an excuse of not having a freshman year to think they have to have homecoming, and I feel even less for the students that feel like they “deserve” a homecoming dance. I think the grown adults who decided to plan this homecoming while fully knowing how serious covid is are using their privilege to exploit students for absolutely no reason. If our school has the responsibility to take care of students, those people should understand why the administration refused to plan a homecoming. Even though the school has a challenging time prioritizing sports over everything else in our school with differences between how both the sports and arts department are dealing with covid, this decision was a good one. Homecoming, a tradition specifically held because of the football season, is not more important than going to school 5 days a week. Though I urge people not to go, if you do go to homecoming, plan in advance. Register yourself for pool testing when you get back to school beforehand and get your work done from home so you don’t put people at risk until the results are negative. As the “dance” is on a Sunday, don’t come to school on Monday before you’ve gotten a negative test, which definitely takes a few days. Even with a mask and double vaccination, we are all vulnerable to the delta variant and we can carry and spread it everywhere. We are so privileged to be going to school 5 days a week and being able to do sports and extracurricular activities… don’t ruin it for us.

 

Submission #10, a KHS senior 

I have mixed feelings about a homecoming dance for Kennebunk High School. When I first found out that the dance had been canceled I was upset, I thought that we might as well have a dance since we all take our masks off at lunch. But, more recently, my opinions have changed as we continue to have a covid spike in Maine. One of my main concerns is that our sports teams will be affected by a covid outbreak which would be devastating due to the lack of athletics last year. 

Today, I still don’t have a solid opinion on the matter, however, I feel that as a school and as a team we should all be on the same page. I understand that people have different opinions and I agree with both sides, but even if 100 students attend the off-campus “dance” the entire community could suffer the consequences.

 

Submission #11, a KHS senior 

Canceling this year’s homecoming dance was out of respect for the student body of Kennebunk High School and the preservation of general health. 

 

The parent-funded dance is an inherently selfish notion. It is unnecessary and wildly dangerous-something each member of the Planning Group consisting of local parents is aware of. Just take a look at the waiver they require signatures before attending. 

 

“Planning Group cannot prevent you or your child(ren) from becoming exposed to, contracting, or spreading COVID-19 while attending the 2021 Kennebunk Homecoming Dance, or participating in any of the activities where the dance is being hosted” (Paragraph 3 of the 2021 Kennebunk Homecoming Dance Release Of Liability And Assumption Of Risk). 

 

It continues to read that “[i]t is not possible to prevent against the presence of the disease. Therefore, if you choose to come on the premises where the 2021 Kennebunk Homecoming Dance is being hosted or to allow your child(ren) to attend the 2021 Kennebunk Homecoming dance [sic]or participate in any of the activities where the dance is being hosted, you and your child(ren) may be exposing yourself to and/or increasing your risk of contracting or spreading COVID-19” (Paragraph 4 of the 2021 Kennebunk Homecoming Dance Release Of Liability And Assumption Of Risk). 

 

Essentially, if any person present at this dance contracts the virus and induces a mass outbreak (which is very likely, especially considering that York County is considered a high risk with only 77.9% of the eligible population vaccinated according to the CDC), the Planning Group AKA Kennebunk parents who created the dance, will not be held accountable. 

 

Is this not a red flag for not only students, but parents as well?

I understand that it’s an aspect of free will for students to attend the dance if they wish. I understand that as a senior, having only two homecoming dances is a disappointment. I understand and I sympathize with my classmates, but please understand that this “choice” affects others. We are not indestructible entities who will not become infected or infect others. We are at the age and maturity where we should be able to use perspective and logical reasoning to understand that this small loss is not going to affect the rest of our (hopefully long and healthy) lives. However, if this dance provokes an outbreak and possible fatal illness, it will affect those family members for the rest of their lives.