By Tim Leeds
This week has been a week of decorations, costumes and activities at Havre High School, not to mention the football game tonight and the basketball game and dance tomorrow.
It's homecoming week at the high school, always a busy time. It started Monday with each of the classes at the school decorating a section of the school, followed by a barbecue.
The decorations were judged the next morning, which was also "twin day" at the high school, with students costumed as twins. Softball games between class teams began at 6 p.m. that night at the Sixth Avenue Softball Field.
The coronation of Stacey Siebrasse and Brent Finneman as homecoming king and queen was held at the high school auditorium Wednesday at 1 p.m., and decoration of the school gymnasium started at 3:30.
After holding drawings for door prizes all day Thursday, and "pie-in-the-teacher's face" fund raiser held by the freshman class on the west lawn at 12:15 p.m., the girls' basketball team competed against Fort Benton at 7:30 p.m.
The events for today include the school pep assembly from 2:55 to 3:30 p.m., buying a chance to bash a car donated to the Pep Club and decorated for the event, and the homecoming football game vs. Belgrade at 7:30 p.m.
The homecoming dance, starting at 9:30 p.m. in the high school cafeteria, ends the events for Saturday and the week. Homecoming this year also includes the Havre Cross Country Invitational and the girls' basketball game vs. Glasgow.
Some of the events might have changed, but the tradition goes back to the Havre Blue Ponies vs. the Glasgow Scotties, the first official homecoming game, held in 1955. The Ponies beat the Scotties that year 27-7, and went on to become the State Class A Champions.
While the school annual for the year has no record of a special dance for homecoming, it does list the king and queen for the event, Mac Wylie and Jeannette Hamblock. It also has photos and descriptions of some of the first official class and club floats, including the sophomore class float depicting a Blue Pony trampling a Glasgow Scottie.
The spirit and tradition goes back even further, although in a slightly different form. The 1923 Havre High Stampede Annual relates how the senior girls entertained the Big Sandy football team and the home team to a banquet of roast veal, fruit salad and coffee, followed by dancing. Reportedly, the Big Sandy team thanked Havre for its hospitality, even though they defeated the team on the field.
Charlie Klimas, activities director at Havre High, said homecoming is really more of a spirit week at the school than a true homecoming, such as where college graduates come back for the game. He said it probably brings out more school spirit than at any other time.
Commissioner Pat Conway, who was at the high school from 1968 through 1992 in positions including teacher, assistant principal and principal, said it brings the student body closer together, at least for a short period of time, and also increases the solidarity of each class.
He said no other period involves all of the students as intensely, such as the crowning of the king and queen with their retinue from all of the classes, the pep assembly and activities at the games. He said the friendly competition between the classes, such as the hall decorating and the softball games, also brings both class solidarity and school spirit. He said the activities are all student oriented, as homecoming should be, and are intended to keep them working together, hand in hand, in the spirit of cooperation.
Klimas, who has seen 26 years worth of homecomings at Havre High, said there have been changes over the years. He said this year is considerably different than most recent homecomings, since the state-wide scheduling prevented the week from coinciding with Havre Festival Days, as it often has in recent years.
Klimas said that timing allows the students to participate in the Festival Days Parade with their homecoming floats, and allows the spirit of homecoming to intermingle with the spirit of Festival Days.
He said it's also a trade-off, since having homecoming the third weekend in September, in conjunction with Festival Days, generally doesn't allow enough time to get the marching band ready. He said while they won't have the Festival Days Parade as a forum for homecoming this year, they will have an excellent marching band show for the game.
Klimas said it looks like the homecoming game will coincide with Festival Days again next year, although the scheduling of the games is now beyond their control.
Klimas, who was a coach for the Blue Ponies, said the homecoming celebration is a headache for the coaches. He said the players are always involved in the activities, and there is always the worry that they might be injured playing softball or some other activity, and that their minds might be elsewhere than the game.
Klimas said the homecoming game is always the best game as far as attendance goes. He said more people come to see the game than for any other. He said some people come just to see the activities, such as the band's halftime show.
The week of activities is winding down now. The games tonight and tomorrow, the dance, and homecoming will be over again. Until next year.