When they called my name over the loudspeaker, I laughed at the irony of it all. Me! On the homecoming court!
I don’t mean to belittle everyone else on the court, or to ignore the work of the Manheim Township Student Council. To make things clear, I wrote an article last year commenting on the outdated nature of this tradition, and now I found myself representing the exact thing I wanted to fight against.
I had to make a decision: Should I just decline and remove myself from the situation in silence? Should I take a bolder route and ask to say something during halftime of the homecoming football game? I certainly couldn’t comply and not say anything, as I had written an article last year condemning the antiquated tradition, and my beliefs about this event had not changed. I decided to write this follow-up article after talking about my predicament with a few trusted advisers.
I want to reiterate how antiquated this tradition is. As nothing more than a popularity contest, it fosters a hostile and unhealthy competitive environment between the bright, young women at our school; there is no similar competition for the boys. Those who wanted a spot on the court may become jealous of those who did, or friends may turn on friends as they mindlessly vote for the girl they think deserves the spot. What the students are voting for is unclear, however, as the competition is not based on any merits, such as academic, athletic or community service achievement.
I would be mistaken, however, to disregard the amazing role models on the court this year. These girls serve as examples to the entire school and the senior class was not mistaken in electing them to the court. Gellila Asmamaw, Jane Bowen, Madi Capizzi, Chloe Kline, Olivia Jablonski, Scotty Reynolds, Kyra Rishell, Macy Mosner and Sophia Schultz were the nine other girls on the court.
These accomplished young women take part in numerous activities, ranging from academic clubs to sports teams, where many serve as leaders of their peers. The National Honor Society and the International Baccalaureate program are just a couple examples of the academic activities these girls are involved in. They also take part in a myriad of extracurriculars, including Black Student Union, Model United Nations, MT Performing Arts and Key Club.
Their dedication does not stop there, however, as they also make contributions to their communities outside of school. They volunteer at local churches and voting organizations, and play in multiple sports leagues.
There are many other organizations these young ladies are involved with, making them incredible role models for other young women. Despite their differences, all of their academic and athletic achievements make them strong and amazing people with incredible talent and vigor.
These are unprecedented times we are living through right now and, after talking with some members of the Student Council, I realize that this year’s event was somewhat rushed and that the council intends to change it for the better next year.
If the tradition were to stay, I propose adding a homecoming king, or a nonbinary “homecoming person.” I also believe that the competition should be based on some sort of merit. Perhaps the students’ activities could be listed or they could provide a summary of what is important to them. These changes would ensure that this tradition is inclusive of all identities and that the students are being recognized for all of their accomplishments.
By voting for students on the basis of their academic or community achievements, we would be making a statement about what we care about as a student body. Going a step further, we could also consider abolishing the event altogether. Doing so may seem severe, but in eliminating the event entirely, we rid our school community of the negative historical ties with the whole tradition. Perhaps we can start anew and create an entirely new tradition of our own. All I know is that many of us are ready for change, and that Manheim Township High School should have already progressed beyond this tradition.
I decided not to drop off the court. While this choice may seem selfish and hypocritical, I truly was honored to be on the court alongside these amazing young women. I wanted to use this position to speak out about the need for change.
Let us move forward.
Vivian Ealy is in grade 12 at Manheim Township High School.