A virtual homecoming — How SM North students are keeping the dance tradition going during COVID-19

Student leaders at Shawnee Mission North are hosting a virtual homecoming dance event this Saturday, Oct. 3. Above, freshman class representatives stand in front of their homecoming banner. 

The coronavirus pandemic put a damper on a number of spring events for high schoolers, but Shawnee Mission North students weren’t ready to give up on all of their fall events that easily.

Student leaders decided to create a virtual homecoming dance event to keep students engaged from home. Pep Club President Glory Obi and Student Body Vice President Miles Cole alongside social media event coordinators Mekaela Rynerson and Ethan Salvino helped organize the live stream homecoming dance that will take place Saturday, Oct. 3 from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Glory Obi, pep club president and the second runner-up homecoming queen, said student leader efforts to engage students is another example of her graduating class rising to the challenge. Photo submitted by Matthew Cunningham.

The efforts of this year’s student leadership is another example of how the Class of 2021 “is rising to the challenge” Obi said.

“None of us, especially seniors, expected to end our high school journey this way, but regardless, we’re going to make the best out of it and do something great,” Obi said. “We’ve been given a rare opportunity to try new things, start new traditions and possibly make things better than they were before — and we are definitely seizing that opportunity.”

A virtual homecoming may not be the norm, but students can live stream the dance from
— which will be filmed from the DJ’s booth with a SM North backdrop of sorts — from their device from 8 p.m. to 10 p.m. Organizers said they’ve heard some students plan to call their friends via FaceTime to enjoy the dance together.

While the dance may be virtual, the homecoming court and football game were not. The top 10 homecoming queen nominees attended the Oct. 1 football game for the crowning event. Traditionally, the previous year’s homecoming queen crowns the winner, but due to COVID-19 Principal Jeremy Higgins took on the responsibility.

Cole, a senior, said he thinks student leaders have done a pretty good job in bringing the North community a sense of normalcy during the pandemic. Pep club and student council efforts have been geared toward getting students involved and engaged — especially freshman who are at a new school — although there have been some “mixed reviews” about a virtual dance, Cole said.

Shawnee Mission North Student Body President Miles Cole, pictured, said he plans to enjoy the virtual dance “as much as we can.”

“We’re hoping that [students] realize versus our other options, really this is the most that we could do,” Cole said. “I think that we’re going to have a good time and really try to enjoy it as much as we can.”

The inaugural virtual homecoming caps off the end of spirit week, which included a ‘class outside’ day and a ‘show off your pet or stuffed animal’ day this year. Spirit week also featured a new activity: Insta Walls, or homecoming banners hung on SM North’s tennis court fences.

Each grade level’s president and vice president designed the banners, which will hang on the tennis court fences until Oct. 3 after the homecoming dance. Students are encouraged to take photos in front of their respective banners, where student council representatives will help ensure social distance is maintained.

“I hope in the future when North students look back at 2020-2021 and remember how different it was with online schooling and limited sports, they also remember that it was more memorable because of all the new creative events and ideas we brought them,” Obi said.