Full disclosure: The author of this article is a member of Payton’s Student Government, which planned Homecoming.
By Will Foster ’20
Pouring rain outside did nothing to dampen enthusiasm for Payton’s Homecoming dance on Saturday night.
Turnout at the glow-in-the-dark-themed event was high — around 650 students, 2/3 of Payton’s total enrollment — and even before the night was over positive reviews were rolling in.
The most important thing: “It was dark,” noted Will Gruszka ’20. This was a sentiment that many shared. Last year’s dance, whatever its merits, was roundly criticized for its brightness. In the first year hosting the event in the then brand-new West gym, the dance naturally assumed the form of a trial run. There was no way to know quite what to expect, and all the overhead lights being turned on apparently made for a rather unpleasant atmosphere for the occasion.
This year’s new Student Government executive board took great care not to make the same mistake again. In an all-school email last June, recently appointed President Adam Clark ’18 promised to “ensure that your Homecoming Dance is as dark as possible, so that we can all dance as awkwardly as we like.” With the popularity of the dance potentially riding in the balance, in the face of an often difficult-to-please student body and bad memories of last year, the organizers knew they had to nail this one — and by all accounts, they did.
In addition to getting the lighting right — a task accomplished with the invaluable help of Principal Tim Devine — there was also the music. In response to student feedback, a professional DJ was hired, and Clark sent out a Google Form asking for song suggestions. Popular elements from last year’s dance also returned, including a photo booth and, of course, snacks and soda, which were served in the atrium.
Student Government member Veronica Gibson ’19 carried around her camera throughout the night, taking more than 500 photos that were emailed to the student body. “I really enjoyed that Veronica took photos of students at Homecoming,” said Magda Saliba ’20. “It was nice to have someone to document the moment.”
Just after 8 p.m., Homecoming court results were announced: the freshmen winners were Bobby Ellis ’21 and Leswin Ramirez ’21, the sophomores were Jamal Turner ’20 and Lailah Ali-Valentine ’20 (pictured together at top of page), the juniors were Suwebat Solebo ’19 and Avion Lopez ’19, and the seniors were Ryan Collins ’18 and Jessica Osemwengie ’18. Under glow-in-the-dark balloons, with crowns perched on their heads, they posed for photos as their classmates cheered.
To fit with the glow-in-the-dark theme, attendees were handed glow sticks at the door. Hundreds of these cast their warm brightness in the dark gym — lighting the way to a great school year ahead.
Photo Credits: Feature photo by Will Foster, photo at the top of this page by Veronica Gibson