Seniors step up enthusiasm for Homecoming quad day

September 26, 2019 — by Mathew Luo

On weekday nights, dancers moved to the beat of songs from “High School Musical” in preparation for their performance on Sept. 27. On weekends, dozens of seniors participated in creating decorations, painting figures and putting together an arch to go above the quad steps. The senior class leaders worked behind the scenes, organizing decorations and enforcing deadlines. 

Despite setbacks that affect each grade every year, the Class of 2020 has seen an increase in participation and enthusiasm across the board to match their challenges. Senior class president Claire Smerdon said there was roughly a 25 percent increase in participation from last year. 

Preparation began before the theme was revealed, Smerdon said. This included appointing choreographers, assigning senior Alena Jarrett to write the quad day script and determining that senior Jackson Gress would host decoration making at his house.

During the summer, some choreographers began planning dances and class leadership finalized their decoration lists. Then, the senior Homecoming theme of “High School Musical” was announced a week before school began. Jarrett said she initially wasn't too fond of the theme at first but tried to make the best of it.

The senior class had to work around several constraints related to the musical, including the types of songs to use. 

First, because “High School Musical” is a musical, class leaders determined that at least two songs from it had to be included for at least 30 seconds each dance except the K-pop and Bollywood ones. 

“This rule makes things more spirited and sticks to the theme,” Smerdon said. 

Another factor they had to take into account was the three separate “High School Musical” movies to pull from. Jarrett said that this actually gave the seniors more material to work with.

“As soon as the theme came out, I sat and I watched all the movies,” Jarrett said. “And as I was going, I wrote down the key details from the most iconic scenes and a list of roasts I wanted to make.”

After school started, the seniors had to step up their intensity and effort to meet their deadlines. The mixes had to be in by Sept. 13, the script by Sept. 15 and the decorations by move-in weekend starting Sept. 21. But the seniors still ran into problems — new and old — that plagued them throughout their timeline. 

These issues included the lack of commitment from some dancers, difficulties managing the greater number of senior participants and even running into problems with rainy weather.

Smerdon said that one major problem choreographers had was that a lot of participants would not show up to their practices, making it difficult for them to anticipate formations.

“Once college apps start coming into the picture and school starts out, students realize it's really hard to balance,” Smerdon said.

But despite the setbacks, the seniors appeared in good shape in the days before their quad day. Jarrett said that she had over two dozen volunteers to help her write the script, the dances swelled in size and participation in decorations increased as well.

As one last surprise for the senior class, Smerdon said she messaged many of the actors and actresses of the original “High School Musical” cast to send a short message to the seniors at Saratoga. Actress Kaycee Stroh, who played Martha Cox in the movies, responded with a video. They played it today during quad day as people were moving into their seats.

“It began as a joke between me and senior vice president  Alex Lee,” Smerdon said. “I planned for it to be a great reveal.” 

The seniors’ quad day is their most momentous Homecoming day, Smerdon said. They worked with great spirit and were more ambitious in planning their Homecoming quad day.

“Just being a senior is that you want to step it up a notch in every single department,” Smerdon said.

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