Gunn’s elaborate Homecoming sticks to time-honored traditions

September 12, 2017 — by Alexandra Li

A thousand students gather around an intricate obstacle course in the middle of Gunn High, leaving lunches forgotten to watch and cheer for their fellow classmates. As representatives from each grade race through the ups and downs of the course, students chant the names of classmates, encouraging them in the competition.

This is just one of the typical games hosted during Gunn High’s Homecoming week, with lunches filled with competitions between grades, a dress-up theme for every day of the week, a Night Rally Thursday night and a football game on Friday.

While this may sound quite similar to Saratoga High’s traditions because the origins and purpose of Homecoming are nearly the same, Gunn’s spirit week focuses more on student unity through varied activity rather than the elaborate dances and skits that occur here.

The school’s original Homecoming traditions nearly match Gunn’s current celebrations, but Homecoming week has changed drastically at Saratoga High in the past two decades, while Gunn’s has stayed mostly the same over the years.

Gunn senior Jaclyn Liang said dressing up is a large part of Homecoming, with themes for each day that correspond to the themes of the year.

“I think that around 99 percent of the school participates,” said Liang, a member of the dance team. “It's weirder to not dress up than to dress up.”

Rather than having each class perform skits based on a certain theme, Gunn Homecoming lunches host games such as whole-class tug-of-war and “stuff a bench,” where the class tries to fit as many people on one bench as possible, and smaller competitions between representatives from each class, such as licking chocolate off plastic. The winning class receives points, which add up over the course of the week to result in an overall winner.

Gunn’s Night Rally is an event that used to occur here, but eventually faded away due to lack of student participation. It essentially combines the dancing contained in Saratoga High’s skits into one night. Each class performs a routine called an “airband” based on their theme for the year, with around 70 people participating per class, including junior Stephanie Liu. Although Liu does not participate in a lot of other events during the week, she enjoys the opportunity that it gives her to show her school spirit.

“It’s fun performing for all the gathered classes at night,” Liu said. “The atmosphere in the room is really special and everybody feels united.”

The Night Rally can easily be called the most elaborate event of Homecoming, often incorporating manipulation with the lights in the room and loud cheering.

“Night Rally is my favorite part of Homecoming because I get to perform with my class and the dance team, and it's also the one night all school year long where the majority of the school is together,” Liang said.

Gunn students also have a unique tradition in which, following the Night Rally, each grade goes to a specific location to further bond together. Liang recalls that the sophomores typically going to Happy Donuts, the juniors going to McDonald’s and the seniors going to In-N-Out.

Continuing the excitement of Night Rally, the football game on Friday features floats from each class being driven around the football field, a tradition that actually took place here until the late ‘90s. These floats, built on top of trucks, are designed by groups who also build the wooden base of the float. Thursday before the Night Rally, the classes gather on the football field and stuff the floats, working together to create their masterpiece as yet another part of the Homecoming week spirit.

“Overall, I think our Homecoming is more spirited than a lot of other schools,” Liang said. “It’s a fun experience for everyone and it’s my favorite week of the year.”


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