Amy Chong, homecoming queen

Last week, I went to the principal’s office, and it wasn’t because I wanted to.

First, let me clarify that I’m a good kid. I do my homework, I don’t cut class, and I haven’t been arrested. So naturally, when the call slip arrived, I racked my brain for what I’d done wrong.

I entered the principal’s office to find a crowd from Video Productions clustered in the corner, failing miserably at their attempt to be inconspicuous. I was ushered into Dr. Mark Capritto‘s office to find my principal flustered.

“Suspicious, isn’t it?” I remarked, taking a seat and trying not to show how nervous I felt.

“No, why would anything be suspicious?” he replied, excusing himself quickly. He returned shortly and told me to speak to the receptionist outside.

As I approached the desk, Ms. Henning pulled out a copy of my “Class Differences” article and proceeded to explain the problem. According to the student handbook I signed earlier in the year, I had violated school policy. It was stated that referring to organized groups on campus, like ASB, was not allowed, especially in the given context. She instructed me to take a seat and await conference with the principal.

Amy Chong and fellow homecoming princess Maya Irvine

I meekly took a seat, my heart beating rapidly. “No one actually reads the student handbook!” I thought angrily, hoping no one would notice me trembling. The threat of punishment had interrupted my ability to think clearly, so I just sat there, blocking out everything as I mused about my situation.

Suddenly, two boys from ASB jumped out from behind the desk. “Just kidding! You’re not in trouble-you’ve been nominated for Homecoming Queen!”

Flowers were pushed into my hands, a tiara placed on my head, and a sash lowered over me. I felt like cursing, but smiled into the camera instead.

Oh, how evil they were.

Six other girls experienced similar fates over the next couple of days, a supposed achievement of sorts. I fail to understand how parents could be proud that their daughters had been voted by senior boys for such a title. Princesses are expected to model for photos, showcase a gown, and humiliate themselves on stage. It seems to go against the progress feminists have made in the past forty years, but who knows? Everyone has their dreams.

Unusually at Santa Barbara High, the title of “Homecoming Queen” carries more weight than other royal titles, such as King of Hearts or even Prom Queen. I don’t know how Homecoming became such a pivotal event, but like most events, it’s thoroughly soaked in tradition. Homecoming is a chance for alumni to return “home” and share their school spirit, with the accompanying events taking place year after year.

The first event to kick off the Homecoming weekend is the senior assembly, akin to an on-stage reality show starring the court and their dates. At the gathering, a slide show, pranks, and games are played, followed by anonymous voting for the queen. One student assured that after the event, the princesses “would be more immune to humiliation.”

The next event consists of a parade snaking down State Street during the lunch hour. The community is invited to watch the football players, cheerleaders, marching band, and princesses scream green and gold as make their way downtown. It brings spirit to the community, and more importantly, it’s emotional preparation for the game that night.

Like most public high schools, SBHS centers its celebration around the Friday night varsity football game. Band alumni, past cheerleaders, and former athletes are invited to join the audience in maintaining the spirit of the crowd. The stadium is packed, and the outpour of support for the team is unmatched.

But then the field clears at half-time, and the atmosphere changes. Corvette convertibles slowly make their way around the track, each carrying a princess who graciously waves at the crowd. Each girl is presented, and many bouquets and smiles later, the announcement of queen is made.

As a royal duty, the queen opens the Homecoming Dance on Saturday night by slow dancing with her date, and then is free to brag about her title the rest of the year. Maybe all the senior boys were doing was voting for a chance to share in the glory.


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