SGA holds first outdoor homecoming celebration, draws over 1,000 students


Photo courtesy of Ethan Schenker

Students dance to the music at Whitman’s first outdoor homecoming celebration. The event drew the most students in at least five years, according to Principal Robert Dodd.

By Ethan Schenker

Over 1,000 students attended Whitman’s first outdoor homecoming celebration on October 8. The festivities took place on the baseball field immediately following the homecoming football game, contrasting from Whitman’s traditional dance, typically hosted indoors by the SGA Saturday night during homecoming weekend.

This year’s homecoming event drew the most students in at least five years, Principal Robert Dodd said. In previous years, freshmen comprised nearly all of the dance’s attendees. At this new event, a wide range of students from all grades enjoyed food trucks, inflatables, lawn games, music and snacks at the carnival-style celebration, which ran from 9:30 p.m. until midnight. 

Parent volunteers provided students with free pizza, cotton candy, popcorn and drinks. The SGA simultaneously facilitated a raffle in which students could win gift cards, game tickets and other prizes.

“In eight years that my kids have been at Whitman, I’ve never seen so many students at one place, so I think that this was an unqualified success,” said PTSA Homecoming Chair Arielle Grill. “I think this would be a great model going forward. There was a lot of school spirit and I think the students enjoyed this more than the dance.” 

Before the pandemic, students celebrated homecoming with a formal dance in the gymnasium and succeeding post-homecoming (POCO) festivities. However, this year, MCPS COVID-19 guidelines required schools to hold homecoming celebrations outdoors. 

“We actually started talking about it last year because the PTSA and the school felt like the homecoming festivities weren’t really well attended,” said SGA Sponsor Kathleen Bartels. “We were trying to come up with something that students would like better, and came up with this idea of an outdoor party in conjunction with the football game. We thought it would bring back a lot of school spirit after 18 months of not being all together as a community.”           

In the week leading up to the event, students decorated themed hallways and watched their peers compete in the Battle of the Classes (BOTC), an athletic competition between grades. After a week of traditional homecoming activities, some students were unsure of what to expect from Friday’s altered celebration. 

“I had a surprisingly good time,” junior Morgan Roberts said. “My first homecoming experience wasn’t the best so I was a bit wary, but it was really great.”

Friday’s homecoming celebration was the product of months-long collaborations between the SGA, PTSA and school administrators. Widespread attendance and elevated school spirit made many student leaders feel like their hard work ultimately paid off, SGA Vice President Evan Shavitz said. 

“My number one takeaway was that when people work really hard for something and we all come together as a school, something really special happens,” Shavitz said. “I hope that we can carry that on in the future.”


Additional reporting by Sonya Rashkovan.