In the weeks preceding Homecoming, freshmen dancers gathered daily in the field house to rehearse their intricate skit. By combining their efforts, members of the Class of 2023 were able to overcome difficulties and complete and perform their Homecoming skit. But behind the outgoing, enthusiastic faces of the skit performers lies the culmination of months of preparation — all of which started the summer before they began as students at MVHS.
After the leadership class decided on making the overarching Homecoming theme cartoons, the freshmen class officers narrowed the Class of 2023’s theme to Dora the Explorer. According to freshman and class officer Darpan Singh, the class office thought that students, especially freshmen, could easily relate with the themes of the title character and storyline by having Dora endure daily MVHS tasks like homework.
While other classes began designing their skit decorations, writing their script and choreographing their dances early in the summer, the Class of 2023 didn’t get the same head start. In the weeks prior to Homecoming, Singh acknowledges the delays in preparing for their skit.
“We had a later start because it’s [our] first year and we didn’t really know what we were doing,” Singh said. “But now we’re kind of in the groove, and we’re having dance practices and skit decorations every week.”
One of the initial setbacks they faced involved the backdrops — large canvases spanning the entire width of the rally court stage. According to Singh, painting the backdrops is complicated — one must pay careful attention to using enough of the right colors and waiting for the paint to dry before folding the canvases. Singh also explains that they had to find a new place to paint after being “kicked out” of one of the other class officers’ places.
“We got kicked out because one kid walked into the paint, and then he walked everywhere and they got mad,” Singh said. “So now we’re doing it at my place, which is fun, but it’s not the same.”
Throughout the preparation, the class officers also faced trouble with finding students interested in participating in the skit and painting the backdrops.
“I think [coming] from Kennedy [Middle School], everybody’s not as spirited as the rest of the classes are, so it’s always a bit of a hassle trying to get people to participate in dances and skit [decorations],” Singh said. “But we’re getting more and more people with every practice and every meeting that we hold, so it’s getting better.”
Freshman and dance choreographer Rachel Chen echoes the plaguing issue of a lack of participation, mentioning how practices would often begin late because people forgot to come to practice.
While freshman and class officer Amy Hu agrees that initially gathering interest was difficult, she believes it didn’t negatively affect the final skit.
“[Our spirit is] kind of horrible, you know,” Hu said. “We don’t get a lot of [dancers], like not at all — but that’s normal for freshmen, and the people who do come are really amazing at it and it’s really fun.”
Not only was interest difficult to sustain among skit participants, but the class officers also struggled with promoting the Homecoming spirit among freshmen in general. According to a survey of 117 freshmen who didn’t participate in the skit, 60% didn’t participate because they weren’t interested. Hu attributes the lack of participation from the freshman class to the reality that despite how fun the activities may be, many freshmen simply don’t know about them — that is, until they get involved.
“I think it’s not that they’re not interested — I think if they knew exactly what we’re doing, [then] they would be interested,” Hu said. “But since we’re freshmen and we’re new, everyone’s new to the scene, so they don’t know what’s happening and they’re trying to figure out their own lives, much less trying something else. And once they see the show and how cool it’s going to be, then they’re probably going to be interested next year and the following year.”
Chen, who has multiple years of experience with dance, originally got involved because she was attracted to the social aspect of the skit. One of her focuses was making the choreography easy, yet fun.
“I decided to be the choreographer because I thought it was a good experience to meet new people [and] to teach other people how to dance,” Chen said. “It’s really fun. And it’s not that hard.”
In the weeks before the skit, the lack of participation, especially from boys, pushed the class officers to reconsider whether or not they should have a boys’ dance in the skit. During this time, Wu reflected on the choreographers’ key roles in the process.
“We [needed] to work on our girls and boys dance — we’re not good with those because there’s not a lot of boys,” Hu said. “Rachel — she’s really professional about [everything]. And [Shreya Jayakumar] — there [weren’t] a lot of boys, but she still [stayed] enthusiastic about it, and she still choreographed it, so we’re really thankful for that.”
Another constant issue the freshmen faced was their lack of designated class advisors. It complicated their efforts each time they wanted to convene and practice or work on something together because they would have to seek supervision from different adults. However, Hu also attributes much of their success to the patience and help they received from adults.
“We don’t have one person that supervises us every single time, so every single time we want to do something at the school, we have to ask for an adult, so usually Mr. White, Ms. Smith, Ms. Mandac and Mr. Wong are super helpful and kind about that,” Hu said. “Other than that, adults give really good advice, especially since I’m in ninth grade and this is my [first] Homecoming.”
Hu hopes that spectators can appreciate their efforts, despite the setbacks they faced as new to the school.
“I hope that people think that even if we have less people, we’ll still be doing great,” Hu said. “I’m sure people don’t expect a lot because we’re freshmen, but I hope that people don’t think we’re lame — I hope they say ‘Hmm, they’re freshmen, but they’re a little bit better than mediocre.’”