This weekend, students at Hayes High School will celebrate Homecoming for the first time since the pandemic started with a dance at Cornell Stadium.
Hayes Principal Ric Stranges said he’s looking forward to the dance, which was not held last year due to COVID-19. He added the dance is the latest of many events at the school aimed at helping students reconnect.
“We’re trying to turn school into a positive place, especially for those who haven’t been in school for a year-and-a-half,” Stranges said.
The dance, he added, has been moved to the stadium to increase safety for the more than 800 students who have bought tickets.
“We’re having all of our stars come out under the stars,” Stranges said. “It’s a unique way to have a dance for our students. It’s a fun way to end our Spirit Week and get together again. It’s something we haven’t been able to do in a couple of years.”
Stranges said he hopes students enjoy the dance.
“For us to have some normal student activities sure makes school feel like it should,” he said. “They’re feeling like it’s school again, and it’s normal life again. I’m looking forward to seeing some joy on their faces. We’re doing things as safely as possible in order to ensure we can keep doing those things that make high school (feel like) high school.”
Bekah Blair, a junior, said she’s excited to attend the dance.
“This year I have a boyfriend and group of friends to go with, so it’ll be more fun than my freshman year,” Blair said. “(Last year) was really sad because I had a group of friends that were seniors, so not being able to go with them really sucked. (This year’s dance will) be cool and different.”
Hayden Crawford, a senior, said this year’s dance will be the first school dance he’s ever attended.
“I’ve never really been into it,” Crawford said. “I’m a little shy, but with it being my senior year, I feel like it’s something I should do with my friends … (This year’s dance is) a different environment than what we’ve been used to. Different but exciting.”
Anna Albrecht, a freshman, said the theme of this year’s dance and its venue change is “really cool.”
“I’m looking forward to it,” Albrecht said. “I think that student council did an amazing job for picking a theme and getting everyone excited throughout the week. I’m looking forward to it being outside. I think that’s a good idea, and I think it’s going to be really exciting to see everyone all dressed up.”
Albrecht said she’s enjoyed her first year of high school so far.
“It’s a lot more put together,” she said. “(There are) a lot of opportunities. As much as the masks aren’t necessarily normal, they feel normal by now, so technically, this year feels completely normal to me compared to doing online and in-person.”
Kathy Kraus, a math teacher at Hayes and the dean of Houk House, said she’s enjoyed Spirit Week at the school and is looking forward to Homecoming.
“It brings the kids together for a common purpose,” Kraus said. “It makes the school feel more normal. The connection and relationship piece was lacking last year. It brings an excitement to the air that we didn’t have last year. It’s going to be fun. No one has ever had a homecoming like this.”
Stranges said he’s enjoyed attending other events that returned this school year such as House Games and musical performances.
“We have so many things happening,” he said. “We’re putting things in place and allowing students to still enjoy high school. It’s normalcy with some safety precautions. We haven’t traded normalcy for safety. We’re trying to make sure we fulfill our obligation to provide the best we can for our students. Hearing live music again from our students was inspirational. I got goosebumps from the pure joy of hearing our students performing.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.