I’ve really never had anything to do with the planning and execution of a Homecoming before. The two schools I attended celebrated Homecoming VERY differently. Undergrad U had school sponsored events and the whole thing was more along the lines of a Parents’ Weekend. It honestly didn’t seem all that different from any other weekend, except I had to sing in my choir concert. Grad School State had a BIG Homecoming with a HUGE tail gate…and most students got too drunk to go to the game and by 8 pm the campus looked like a battlefield.
Homecoming at Please Don’t Fire Me if You Ever Read This U (PDFM U for short) is very traditional…it reminded me of what I had seen in Grad School State’s old yearbooks. There’s a parade, a dance, a Homecoming court, and, of course, a football game. I had never seen Homecoming like this, much less planned one. Luckily, I didn’t have to worry about that. It was somebody else’s job. I was just going to have to be on call for the weekend. (Of course, after attending and working at Grad School State, I was fully prepared to be unable to leave campus the entire weekend.)
That all changed literally the day before the Homecoming festivities were supposed to start. The two people who were in charge of running Homecoming could no longer be there for a variety of reasons. So, twenty four hours before things are supposed to start, I get a call asking if I can run Homecoming. UMMM WHAT? I’ve never even SEEN a Homecoming at PDFM U, much less run a Homecoming anywhere EVER. But hey, student affairs is all about “Other Duties as Assigned” so I went along for the ride.
The first thing I had to do was supervise parade preparations. That one was no big deal. I literally stood there. I put some cute pictures on Instagram. I judged my students’ artistic abilities. After that, I headed off for my more challenging event of the evening – Lip Sync. Now, when I was in high school, we had a lip sync contest. It was a BIG DEAL. Undergrad U didn’t do anything of the sort, but every school I’ve worked at has had some sort of Lip Sync, usually as part of Greek Week. Well, here at PDFM U, Lip Sync during Homecoming is for anybody and everybody. It’s all planned, so I wasn’t too worried. My students kept trying to scare me and tell me it’s notoriously a zoo and students try smuggle alcohol in, but after working at Grad School State, I feel I am prepared for many things. Not all though.
So, there I am on stage, about to welcome everybody to this year’s Lip Sync and Homecoming when suddenly everybody’s phones, including mine go off. It felt like an episode of Gossip Girl. What was the oh so important message? Spotted – three miles from campus – a tornado. My mind starts racing. Here we are in an auditorium…the roof of my high school auditorium got torn off during a storm with high winds. Does this building even have a basement? Luckily, thanks to my awesome student staff and some campus officers, we quickly came up with an evacuation plan (that unfortunately left us up in the auditorium as the stairwells and basement were STUFFED). To complicate things further, I was on call for the weekend, so I was responsible for EVERYBODY on campus. RAs were trying to call me as I was trying to give directions to all the students in the auditorium. After the tornado warning was lifted, we let the students back into the auditorium and it was on with the show! Spotted – on stage at Lip Sync – The Author not letting a tornado stand in her way.
After Friday, Saturday was a breeze (haha get it? Instead of a tornado?). I went to the parade, I supervised a Homecoming Dance…and I visited the hospital rooms of students that celebrated Grad School State style.
I’m sure that this is a Homecoming PDFM U will NEVER forget. And, in total student affairs style, it was a learning experience and gave me an idea for a new project – developing emergency plans for large campus events.