Students Select 2021 Homecoming Court


Courtesy of Mary Berquist

Pictured is this year’s homecoming princesses and Homecoming Queen. Starting from left to right is Bailey Pusey, Darby Moore, Georgia Oglesby, Avery Braciszewski, Kaylee Leakan, Jayda Taylor, Alina Bernal-Clark, and Caroline Taylor.

It’s that time of year again where students vote for their friends to be honored in the homecoming court. Each grade chooses who they would want to be their homecoming prince and princess, and seniors share hopes of their classmates being elected king and queen.

On Friday, Oct. 1, Stephen Decatur High School students were expected to report to their homeroom class in order to vote for their grade’s homecoming court. Throughout the week, students posted on several social media platforms, especially Snapchat, displaying their campaign to be voted by their classmates. Friends would “repost” the pictures to get the word out.

Anticipation grew as potential candidates awaited for their name to be called over the intercom. On Monday, Oct. 4, the wait was finally over, and the winners were announced during fifth period.

The ninth grade class collectively voted for Zakhari Baker and Jayda Taylor to be their prince and princess.

“I’m pretty excited about winning homecoming court and as a freshman it gives me the chance to get involved and get myself out there in the school,” said Baker.

Homecoming week, as well as the dance, is a new experience for the freshmen class. Baker and Taylor will be the first to represent their grade in the homecoming court. They seem both nervous, yet excited to be representing their class and becoming part of homecoming week.

“This year I’m very excited and honored to be the freshman homecoming princess,” said Taylor. “I’m extremely excited to represent my school and my family in this way. I can’t wait for the football game and I’m very happy to have this opportunity.”

The homecoming prince and princess for the sophomore class are Zachi Tindley and Kaylee Leakan. When asked about her feelings on being one of the princesses, Leakan said,  “At first when they called my name I was really excited, and I am still really happy about it. The only thing I am nervous for is walking on the field, but I’m sure it will be a great experience. I am honored to be a part of the homecoming court.”

Tindley has mixed emotions about being in the court, saying, “I feel like everyone would be a little nervous to have to walk on the field, but it’s also very exciting because I will be with a longtime friend that will be right next to me during it all.”

Due to COVID-19, homecoming was unfortunately cancelled last year. Because of this, the tenth grade class has not been given the chance to partake in the spirit days leading up to homecoming, nor the dance, making this year extra special in high schools across the country.

The junior class has only been gifted the opportunity for one homecoming, making students eager for the upcoming event. This year, Ryan McLaughlin and Alina Bernal-Clark were voted as prince and princess.

“I feel excited that I get to represent the junior class,” said McLaughlin. Bernal-Clark was shocked to win, saying, “I was honestly pretty surprised that we won, especially because Ryan and I did not campaign for ourselves. Our friends knew we’ve been dating for a while, so they all decided to vote for us. It’s pretty cool that we’re both on the homecoming court just because we’re dating, and a lot of the others are not.”

Senior year is already a bittersweet year, full of first lasts. Each school event holds even more sentimental value, especially after the previous year. The Homecoming Court is different for seniors compared to the rest of the underclassmen. Instead of just one prince and one princess, the class votes for five of each.

One pair from the 10 students will then be elected Homecoming King and Queen. Joe Buxbaum, Khi Reed, Zachery Thornton, Noah Reho and Sam Woodley were the potential kings, while Darby Moore, Georgia Oglesby, Avery Braciszewski, Bailey Pusey and Caroline Taylor were the potential queens.

During homecoming week, students of all grades have the chance to vote for their favorite candidates during their lunch period. Administration tallied up each vote and the winners will be announced at the end of the week, just in time for the dance.

During the annual homecoming pep rally on Friday, Oct. 22, the five homecoming king candidates, as well as the underclassmen princes, were escorted onto the field. After great anticipation, Khi Reed was awarded Homecoming King. He said, “At first, running to be in the homecoming court made me very nervous because it was something my mom had convinced me to do, but once I got into it I was very excited. When I got announced as homecoming king, I was very happy and it is something that I will remember forever.”

At the homecoming football game against Easton High School later that night, the three princesses and five potential queens were escorted to the field during half time. The crowd was given a small summary about each girl, waiting anxiously to hear who would be this year’s queen. Finally, Bailey Pusey was awarded Homecoming Queen.

“I was very nervous being on the homecoming court because any one of us could’ve been crowned. I was also every excited to have people I know well on the court with me. Riding out in the Jeeps in front of basically the whole school made me super nervous too, but to see everyone I knew and all my friends cheering was really cool to experience. In all reality I did not expect myself to win, so I was very surprised when they announced my name, but also really excited to have been chosen for a once in a lifetime opportunity,” said Pusey.

Having this opportunity is very special and a great way to represent one’s school. As this tradition continues, new students will be offered the chance to participate in school events such as homecoming week. This is a great way to unite the school and come together as one, especially in light of the COVID-19 precautions needed to take place.