‘Tis the homecoming season where the focus is not only on dresses, proposals, dinner plans and the dance, but also on school spirit. I love homecoming season because showing school spirit during that week, the football game and the dance fills me with good energy and makes me feel part of something larger. It is nice to have a little escape from the regular school-year routine where everything seems to move so fast and it all seems to be so endless.
JoJo, my sister, with special needs also has spirit week and homecoming at her school, Longview in Germantown. Students there have spirit days just like us. They have had themes like crazy socks, pajama day, ‘80s etc. They also had wacky hair or crazy hat days. My parents decided to make Joanne’s hair look wacky since she cannot stand wearing hats due to her sensory issues; she will take it off the second you put it on her. Teachers sometimes paint their student’s faces with dots and stripes in honor of spirit week. However, they have to make sure the parents are OK with it since some students might have allergies to the paint or maybe kids get uncomfortable with the paint on.
On Friday, there is an adapted football game which takes place in the Matsunaga gym an elementary school connected to Longview. The kindergarten through 5th grade attend the game and cheer on. The Longview middle and high school are split into two teams: the red and the yellow team. Teachers make personalized shirts for the students with puffy paint and other decorations. JoJo loves school spirit just like me: Even though she might get thrown off from her routine, she loves movement and color. Since my sister is deaf mute her strongest sense is her vision, so movement, patterns, shades and colors is what gets her attention the most. Students get to vote for homecoming king and queen, and after lunch, there is a homecoming dance.This year, their homecoming week is Oct. 21-25.
While I micro-stress over my dress and makeup, JoJo’s school is more relaxed with the dress attire. Students can dress with the theme of the dance, formal or however they usually dress. Some students hate going outside their routine and feel uncomfortable. JoJo is cognitively like a toddler so she isn’t aware of societal constraints (I am kind of jealous of that sometimes), thus, she doesn’t stress about what she wears or what other people think of what she wears. She mostly loves to see what other people wear because she loves the colors and the designs. My mom likes to dress her a little formal but mostly with leggings or pants on because JoJo likes to randomly plop on the floor, so she needs to have something under her knee pads to protect her knees.
Sometimes Longview combines other dances they have with Matsunaga Elementary School since they share the same building, so students from Longview and kids from Matsunaga get to know each other. They get to connect and learn from each other. JoJo loves when this happens, kids at that age are so jumpy and uninhibited that she gets really entertained.
In their dances, in that moment, no one really focuses on the dress, the makeup, the structured plans, they all are simply enjoying each other’s company. I enjoy dressing up and all the things that homecoming here entails, nonetheless, it’s important to make sure we are simply having fun and enjoying the small moments in our own particular ways.