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Fri, Dec. 04

Grand Canyon gets in the spirit of homecoming week (see photos)

Grand Canyon High School homecoming royalty Rufus Kebahe, Cayli Miles, Natalie Ramos, Nolan Johnson, Emma Perkins, Cale Wisher, Mariela Montano and Omar Zapata.
Photo/Kyla Pearce

Grand Canyon High School homecoming royalty Rufus Kebahe, Cayli Miles, Natalie Ramos, Nolan Johnson, Emma Perkins, Cale Wisher, Mariela Montano and Omar Zapata.

GRAND CANYON, Ariz. — Many aspects of the K-12 school in Grand Canyon National Park make it different than most other schools in the nation. When it comes to homecoming week, Grand Canyon tries to fit the mold, but often has to make some adjustments.

At most large high schools in the country, homecoming week celebrates a school’s football team and return of former students. Since Grand Canyon High School does not have a football team, the homecoming activities revolve around the basketball teams.

At Grand Canyon School, this is a week for decorating walls in the high school gym, rallying the school through spirit week, and gathering students to watch the homecoming basketball games. These activities make the week not only fun, but a unique experience for Grand Canyon School students. Decorating the walls, participating in spirit week and attending basketball games develop a school-wide sense of spirit that is common in large high schools. It is a chance for students to show pride for their unique home in Grand Canyon National Park and celebrate the homecoming of their graduated friends and family. Nolan Johnson, a sophomore student at Grand Canyon High School, said he is proud of how everyone rallies for homecoming activities.

“I love how everyone participates to help show Grand Canyon pride,” he said.

It has always been a tradition for the graduating senior class to choose a theme for the decoration of the gym walls. This year, the seniors chose Decades in Animated Movies. The freshman went with the movie “The Jungle Book,” which was made in the 1960s. The sophomore class was given “The Rescuers,” made in the 1970s, the junior class got “The Fox and the Hound,” which was made in the 1980s and the seniors gave themselves “The Lion King,” from the 1990s. This theme was chosen because the graduating class of 2017 will be the last graduating class of students born in the 1900’s. During homecoming week, the school’s gym walls are decorated with colorful, student-made art to demonstrate school spirit.

The decoration of walls happens alongside a school-wide spirit week. It is tradition for students to show up each day participating in a different theme chosen by the seniors. During Grand Canyon’s spirit week, students came to school in plaid on Monday, dressed as twins on Tuesday, wore their pajamas to school on Wednesday and sported their class color on Thursday.

Lori Rommel, Grand Canyon School’s Assistant Principal, said one of her favorite parts of homecoming week is watching the kids enjoy spirit week.

“Seeing the kids come up with all the creative ways to ask each other to dances,” she said.

On Feb. 4, Grand Canyon High School held their homecoming dance at the Shrine of the Ages. This event was preceded by students making signs and thinking outside to box to creatively ask one another to the dance. While most homecoming dances at large high schools are normally attended by hundreds of students, Grand Canyon’s homecoming dance gets about forty attendees on average. This makes the event very personal and something the students look forward to every year.

Although Grand Canyon School may be small and have limited resources, they find ways to show school spirit and have fun while they’re at it. As the only K-12 school in a national park, Grand Canyon School has a lot to be proud of and the students and administrators show that through their enthusiasm during the homecoming events.

“It changes things up,” Rommel said. “It’s a challenge sometimes to schedule all of these things, but it’s great when we can make it a K-12 event. It’s fun.”

The graduating senior class extends a huge thank you to all businesses inside and out of the national park for their generous contributions and support for the homecoming events.

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