Students prepare for Homecoming games with semiformal dance, Fanatic Fest week

In the lead-up to Homecoming Oct. 5, students will attend the first Homecoming dance in recent years and participate in Fanatic Fest festivities that will no longer include an all-school assembly in Taper Gym.

Prefect Council will host the Homecoming Formal Sept. 28 from 8 p.m. to 11 p.m. in Taper Gym, the prefects announced in a staged procession after school Aug. 30. Tickets for the dance are $50 each.

Students in grades 10-12 will be able to rent limousines, wear formal attire and bring dates to the dance. However, similar to prom, all students who attend the dance and their parents will need to sign a pledge. Students ninth grade and below are not allowed to attend the dance, even if invited, Head of Middle School Jon Wimbish said.

Students bringing dates from other schools are also required to get their dates to sign the pledge. By signing the pledge, students agree to rules including the prohibition of alcohol and drugs at the formal and not attending an after party at a non-residential venue. All limousines will be searched before students can enter the dance.

Students and parents must sign the pledge on the trips and activities portal on the school’s website before tickets can be purchased at the bookstore, the prefects announced in an email to all upper school students.

Students must arrive at the dance by 8:30 to gain entrance and will be allowed to leave at the end of the event.

To announce the formal, Head Fanatics, football players and cheerleaders drove into the quad in a party bus that stopped in the middle of the quad. Music started to play from the car as prefects descended the stairs in front of Seaver Hall dressed in formal attire, handing out save the date cards.

“We had the idea at the end of last year that we wanted to create an entirely new event that had no prerequisites or anything like that where we just kind of thought it up and this is the idea that came from it,” Head Prefect Ashley Sacks ’14 said.

The prefects met with Head of Upper School Audrius Barzdukas, Chief Financial Officer Rob Levin and the Planning Committee several times to work out logistics for the event and rules that would be in place, Sacks said.

Barzdukas and Levin gave the prefects official assent Aug. 22, as did the Planning Committee Aug. 29.

“Harvard-Westlake is going to have a homecoming dance,” Barzdukas said. “What could be more fun? It’s a great way to build community, and it’s a real win for everyone. Homecoming is going to start with a win.”

The dance has been planned for the Saturday before Homecoming in order to allow all athletes playing in games Oct. 5 to attend and to kick off Fanatic Fest, Sacks said.

We’re actually really happy it’s in the gym instead of being an off-campus event because the gym just kind of really pulls together that whole school spirit idea,” Sacks said. “It’s not about going off-campus and having a dance; it’s about the formal that celebrates everything that’s going on around campus. It kind of ties it all together.”

Sacks said the prefects strove to create an entirely new event, aiming to combine old traditions and form new ones.

“This is an exciting thing,” President Rick Commons said, observing the procession. “What can be more exciting than a homecoming formal? I’ll be there.”

The Monday following the dance will kick-off the Fanatic Fest week with 80’s day and students will be able to buy Jamba Juice in the quad. Tuesday will be “twins twosday,” Wednesday will be “wild, wild west” themed and Thursday will be “tacky tourist Thursday.” There will also be a photo booth set up on Thursday in front of Chalmers for students to take pictures in dressed in their tourist attire.

Prefect Council is still working with Community Council on possibly adding more activities in conjunction with the dress up days, prefect Rachel Persky ’15 said.

On Friday, at the culmination of Fanatic Fest, a pep rally in the quad will replace the traditional mandatory pep rally in the gym. Sophomores have been asked to dress up in red, juniors in white and seniors will be dressed in black for the spirit day. Head Fanatics will also be selling this year’s Fanatics T-Shirts and are working with Prefect Council on bringing in a food truck as well.  The Head Fanatics will also be emceeing during the special Friday break and teaching students new chants. Students will also  vote on different designs for the Fanatics tank top.

“We’ve sort of noticed that people don’t really enjoy the large assembly,” Head Fanatic Jonathan Felker ’14 said. “I mean, a lot of people think it’s funny, but it kind of comes down to certain groups of people that like it, athletes sort of enjoy it sometimes and people who participate in it have a good time, but there are a lot of people just sitting there having to deal with it, having to endure it.”

Prefect Council brought the idea to the Head Fanatics of not having a mandatory pep rally, which when the Fanatics heard was an option, they agreed with.

“We don’t really want to force people to enjoy our product,” Felker said.

The Fanatics shirts this year will include a vertical “Fanatics 13-14” down the side of the front with the crest on a pocket on the front. The back will feature the slogan “can’t stop won’t stop” with a cartoon Wolverine leaning on the words.

“The tanks are more tailored toward what the people want,” Felker said. “The shirts are what we thought would be cool. We want to make something that people want.”

The Head Fanatics will give fall athletes pins at the Homecoming dance as a new tradition, Felker said.

“I’m really excited that we have [the dance],” Felker said. “I think a lot of people feel that way, that’s sort of the consensus on campus. Especially the underclassmen who have never had a dance before, I think it’s really cool for them. It’s going to be really fun especially because this year I think the 10th, 11th and 12th graders are all pretty interconnected in that they all hang out, unlike previous years when we weren’t really connected in the same way.”

Homecoming will consist of athletic games, rides and food provided by the Parents’ Association. Homecoming will feature football, water polo and volleyball games in the lead up to the varsity football game vs. Palisades High School at 7:30 p.m.

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