Greene County High School announced its homecoming king and queen at halftime of Friday’s basketball game against Lake Oconee Academy. It was an announcement that many thought would never be made because of COVID-19.
Thanks to a few teachers, administrators and an online tool, though, homecoming week was indeed a success.
It was a long road to get there, too. On Nov. 2, 2020, principal James Peek and athletic director Russell Morgan decided to move homecoming week from football to basketball season.
That moved everything back in the planning process.
Then, when it was time for Greene County students to return to school from Christmas Break on Jan. 4, it was announced that the school would host virtual learning days instead. Those virtual learning days turned into two weeks. Following those two weeks, GCHS announced that it would move up its weeklong winter break and then return to in-person instruction thereafter.
The next week was scheduled to be homecoming. As a result, students would come off of two weeks of virtual learning and a weeklong break to jump straight into homecoming week.
So, GCHS’s homecoming planning committee turned to an online program that was integral in the planning process.
Canvas is a learning management system implemented in the Greene County School System to help with virtual learning. Students have created their own, free accounts to access the program. Teachers host classes on it, assign class/homework and students turn in such work through Canvas.
But, during homecoming preparation, it allowed the students’ voices to be heard.
Through Canvas, students voted on what each spirit day would be and they elected each homecoming representative as well. Spirit Days were Sports Team/Hat Day, Twin Day, Wacky Tacky Day and Jean/ Spirit Day.
All of the homecoming representatives were voted on by the students and announced on Dec. 15, 2020. From those representatives, students voted for the king and queen.
According to Peek, approximately 75 percent of the students cast a vote to help fairly decide the outcome.
“It just made voting so much easier,” Peek said. “Unlike in other years, we’d have a ballot box that folks would drop their ballot in. All they had to do this year was access their computer and vote that way.”
All votes were counted and students anticipatedly waited for last Friday’s game to hear the winners.
Traquavis Bolden and Erien Jones were announced as king and queen, respectively.
When all was said and done, Laura Greene, who led the planning committee, said that homecoming wouldn’t have been possible without the assistance from Canvas.
“Through Canvas, we set up a webpage for each class,” Greene said. “Each class got a whole week to vote for their class representative. So, the students were involved a lot at homecoming.”
Other than the fact that 25 percent of students didn’t vote for homecoming, there were other problems that Canvas couldn’t solve.
For instance, the way students ran for homecoming court was by word of mouth. In years past, posters would be hung all over the school, advertisements would be made on the televisions in the commons area and such. Since students were not in school before homecoming week, they had to advertise under their own means.
Another issue that dampened homecoming a little bit was the lack of public involvement.
Peek mentioned that the school normally hosts homecoming during the football season with a parade and an alumni tailgate. The absence of such events made a huge difference in Peek’s eyes.
“I just think more spirit is exhibited because those events get the public more involved,” Peek said. “And that just takes things to a different level in terms of anticipation for the kids.”
Though Canvas didn’t resolve everything in the planning process, it was still a very useful tool.
Not only was it helpful for homecoming preparation, specifically, but it’s also proved beneficial to the overall school. So much so that Peek would recommend it to any other school administrator.
“The kids’ world today is technology and technology integration,” Peek said. “So, it’s a great tool for kids to vote accurately. But it also helps students to become more literate when it comes to utilizing technology.”
All in all, Greene County’s efforts to host a homecoming celebration during the 2020–21 school year was triumphant. A homecoming king and queen were crowned, the majority of the students participated and memories were made throughout the week.
Above all, students enjoyed celebrating their school’s homecoming. Which is what mattered most to GCHS.
“Seeing them in school and the joy on their faces when they were told the news that we are going to crown a king and queen,” Peek said. “That’s the joy I took from homecoming week.”