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Guest opinion: Homecomings past
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Homecoming is an important week in American high schools and colleges.

Where did it begin? Some claim that Homecoming began with the annual Harvard–Yale game in the 1870s, when both schools invited alumni to return for “The Game.” However, Southwestern University claims to have held the first full modern homecoming celebration in April 1909. This honor is contested by Baylor, Illinois and Missouri.

These early Homecoming celebrations offered a football game, pep rallies, parades, speeches and dances. These helped to unite alumni and students and strengthened school pride. By the 1920s Homecoming had become an American tradition that continues today.

When I taught at New Lisbon High School, I was appointed assistant freshman class moderator. Because of unexpected problems worsened by a severe cold, boils, and inexperience with building floats, for almost two weeks I supervised the freshman float construction. This was a cross. Later our school wisely set time limits on float building.

I taught for 20 years at Beloit at Catholic High School. Since we had no church, we celebrated Homecoming Mass in the gym the evening before the football game. Many students, alumni and others attended. These Homecoming Masses helped me and others to reflect upon the meaning of home.

Anthony Padovano, a spiritual writer, wrote, “Home is not a place, but an attitude.” I think that home is both. It is a place where family and others accept us for who we are and not for what we do (except maybe briefly around report card time.) Home is where significant others help us feel at home with self and others. This helps us to be happier and more productive. Some high school students feel that their school is a second home. Others do not.

After senior citizens can no longer function by themselves, they often have to give up the home they built with their body and blood. This can be painful. Nursing homes and Assisted Living try their best to make their places home-like, but some residents feel that isn’t the same. When I lived in Assisted Living, a 97-year-old man said that he liked it there, but what kept him going was his three daughters who visited him faithfully. They brought a bit of home to him.

Homecoming reminds me to realize that earth is our temporary home. Heaven is our eternal home. In 1 Corinthians 9:24 St. Paul says that we are to run the race of life for the prize of heaven, which lasts forever.

Delete - Merge UpUnfortunately Homecoming is sometimes marred by tragedy. Parents, teachers and others pray for teens’ safety during this often hectic week. In my opinion safety depends upon knowledge, but also involves choices, wisdom, common sense, courage and experience.

High school students, remember that if your parents are concerned, it’s because they love you. So be wise and practical. The lives you save may include your own, your friends, future children and others.

Since I couldn’t find much information  especially how about how homecoming  affected the school,  I decided to write this home-made, hometown homecoming reflection:

Homecoming is a Teenage Dream
Homecoming is a beautiful teenage dream
That mysteriously, miraculously comes true,
Every year in our quiet, peaceful hometown,
As Autumn leaves swirl softly to the ground.
The dream begins in the imagination of teens
As they plan a bigger and better homecoming,
A holy week stuffed with skits, floats, a dance,
Athletics, pep rally, a dress up day and a parade.
A week crammed with memories so precious
They can’t be fully expressed in human words
But only by the shared music of teenage hearts
As Homecoming’s dream increases in intensity,
It seems to hypnotize most of the student body,
Animating them with such enthusiastic spirit
That they only want to celebrate and have a ball
While complaining that they’re too tired to study
Because they worked so hard on their prize float,
They tell worn-out teachers who try to understand
But most find it difficult by this hectic week’s end.
As Homecoming’s Spirit grows, its young energy
Reaches out to touch wise, seasoned school alumni
Inspiring them with such school pride and nostalgia
That they long to return to their beloved Alma Mater
Where revived forgotten memories are daily re-lived,
As they share the way they were in high school days.
United by school pride, everyone is grateful to share
Homecoming’s spirit, it emerges nearly everywhere.
When this popular busy week finally reaches an end
And its magic dream miraculously comes true again
It retreats to the creative mystic depths of teen hearts
Until it rises again next Fall in our peaceful hometown
As falling leaves  cover God’s sacred Autumn ground.