By Vanesa Brashier, email@example.com
Homecoming Week came early for Hardin High School this year with students picking homecoming court candidates just four days into the new school year. One of the most-anticipated elements of Hardin’s homecoming season is a hall-decorating contest among the four high school grades.
The tradition began in 1999 and the driving force behind it is Amanda Kersh Key, who teaches high school government, economics and photography.
“When we started this 21 years ago, it was just me pushing it. It was just a small display. Over the years, it has grown to what it is today,” Key said.
Every May, at the end of the school year and after new members are elected to the student council, the group gets together to pick a theme for the upcoming year. This year’s theme is movies.
“Each class got to pick a movie theme for their hallway. I think everyone did a really good job,” Key said.
The designs this year include “Alice in Wonderland,” freshman; “Wizard of Oz,” sophomores, “Willy Wonka,” juniors, and “The Greatest Showman,” seniors.
Students who participate are encouraged to incorporate the Hardin mascot, as well as items from Hardin ISD’s history and school pride into their designs. Some of the classes picked favorite teachers, coaches and administrators to superimpose on cardboard cutouts of the movie characters. A photo of new high school principal Stacy Tucker’s face was incorporated into the ring leader cutout for the seniors’ circus-theme display. Key’s photo was displayed as Glenda the Good Witch from the “Wizard of Oz.”
Students and their parents began working on the displays over the summer. The decorations include flowers made of tissue paper, cordoned rope dividers made from pool noodles, styrofoam cakes for the “Alice in Wonderland” tea party, foam flowers, balloons, posters, a tornado made from pillow stuffing and backgrounds made from old wooden pallets.
In a whirlwind four-hour period on Sunday, Aug. 25, all the decorations were put into place in the two connecting hallways at the high school.
“For the amount of time we had to spend on this project, it was amazing. It was tougher this year with homecoming so early in the school year,” Key said. “As tired as I am, as worn out as I am, as much as I am driven crazy over homecoming, I know this is the highlight for many of our students’ lives this week. This is all about making memories for them. When I am tired, I remind myself that it’s my job to make this week as memorable for them as I possibly can.”
Judging for the contest is still under way. The results are expected to be announced on Friday. More homecoming festivities are planned for Friday as well, including a tailgating party, crowning of the homecoming king and queen and the homecoming game against the Beaumont Legacy Trojans. Game time is 7:30 p.m. at Hornet Stadium.