The Homecoming Debate

Alyssa Olson

Paola, a SPASH student who attended the meeting with Mr. Vollendorf, Doua, a SPASH student who was involved, and MaryKate, a SPASH student who decided to try out for Mr. SPASH

Homecoming has been a part of SPASH culture and tradition for as long as any of us can remember. It’s a fun and exciting time for all students with the week filled with fun and exciting activities and events. But this year, some students felt excluded from all the fun. 

SPASH has always celebrated homecoming week with various dress-up days, class competitions, and events and activities like Mr. SPASH and the well-known Homecoming dance. There are also pep rallies, parades, and football games to watch with the whole school. And just as tradition had been every year these events are separated into boy and girl groups for various activities. Girls can participate in the homecoming court and powderpuff game while boys can try out for Mr. SPASH or help out with other events during the week. School clubs can have the choice to participate in the grand homecoming parade and students who choose to not participate in any of those activities get to watch all the fun. Seems fair right? Well not for one student named MaryKate Domres.

This is her story.

According to an interview with MaryKate, it all started Friday September 10th when all sheets for homecoming court nomination forms were due as well as the Mr. SPASH competition forms. MaryKate decided after talking with her friends that day to submit a form and see what happens, so she did. 

The next week, the day homecoming court and SPASH finalists were announced she was called down to Ms. Melville’s office because the school wanted to know why she had submitted a form for Mr SPASH when she was a girl.. Ms. Melville explained some alternative options to being on Mr. SPASH and told her being in the competition would put others in an awkward position because she would be dancing with girls and that it was also a set up meant for boys. Although Ashtyn Zimmerman explained, “I talked to the Mr. SPASH contestants and a lot of them were open minded about a girl joining, even enthusiastic.¨

According to MaryKate this was the reason she wanted to be on Mr. SPASH, “I wanted to be on Mr. SPASH because I wanted to compete to be there. I’m not asking to be in the competition, I’m just asking for a chance to run.” 

Ms. Melville provided an all girls option for winter formal and prom to MaryKate as an alternative and asked her to think about the two options and let her know which one she wanted, which made MaryKate believe that maybe she had a chance to be on the voting form for Mr. SPASH. 

But later that day MaryKate came back for a second meeting with Ms. Melville. She explained that although she appreciated the offer she would still like to be a part of Mr. SPASH and accept the offer for the upcoming dances. Although at that time Ms. Melville turned down MaryKate for being allowed to be a part of Mr. SPASH. 

After speaking with one other student who was involved and got the choice to choose if he wanted to be in Mr. SPASH or Homecoming Court. A SPASH student, Doua, told me “it’s unfair that I get to choose and have the option to participate and choose what event I want to be in and she didn’t.” Doua met with Mr. Vollendorf and asked him personally to choose to be on homecoming court or Mr. SPASH and he agreed although ultimately he chose to try out for Mr. SPASH. 

Another SPASH student, Paola had something to say regarding the situation as well “ it wasn’t fair not giving other people a chance to choose. Cause at the end of the day they were just interested in participating in school activities regardless of their different situations….It’s not a completely negative thing that her case got a lot of attention because then it can help solve the problem and pave the way for reform in this school tradition…”  She told me how she thought it was unfair that one student was allowed the choice when another student was denied the option but agrees that this whole situation will help spark new policy change for homecoming as well as other activities and events. 

In a recent interview with Ms. Melville and Mr. Vollendorf about the situation, here’s what they had to say about it. Although an exact reason for why Marykate was not allowed to be on homecoming court was not given due to confidentiality reasons, they explained to me that in order to make homecoming fair for everyone policy change would have to happen for this situation and that is something that is undetermined at this time. They did tell me in the future they are looking into getting a school vote about who should participate in homecoming court and Mr. SPASH as well as how we should choose candidates for these events. Mr. Vollendorf told me that policy change can happen for the future but at this stage with covid and other issues they don’t have a specific plan for how all of it will work out just yet. They both expressed their positivity for student input and decision for the future. Although they were not able to give a specific reason for why things ended up for MaryKate the way they did, they did tell me that there were a number of different reasons and that their goal is to figure things out right now so they can plan for policy change within the near future. 

The school Equity and Diversion and Inclusion Specialist, Ms. Gigi had this to say about the isse “What I have learned in this situation is that we are in a transition period so students are ready to drive change forward and it’s our job as staff to create an environment to help with that.” She is working with GSP and the Fem club to get some student input on this situation and see where some students would like to go with policy change. 

After speaking with everyone involved with the situation and talking with some students about this situation I have come to the conclusion that in order to prevent something like this from happening again we as students need to step up and use our voice to create change for the things we want to see happen at SPASH. Without speaking up, change is inevitable and it’s our responsibility to make those changes happen. What we can do as students is tell people like Mr. Vollendorf and Ms. Melville our thoughts and concerns for any situation or event because this will help create the opportunity for policy change like the ones for homecoming. 

MaryKate tells me “ It’s not just all about titles it’s about the method of the activities as well. I think we need to look at homecoming as a whole and make it better and fun for everyone. Make it equal for everyone, not just both genders.” I agree that this change is necessary and can happen for the future, but in order to make that happen a majority of students must speak up and voice themselves so there can be the opportunity for change.