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Cedar Rapids, Iowa 52401
MARION — A king and queen will not be crowned at Linn-Mar High School’s homecoming this year — or in the future — as the school pivots to a more inclusive way of recognizing seniors.
While students still celebrated homecoming this year by dressing up all week for theme days, having a parade and holding a dance Saturday, the tradition of the homecoming court is no more.
Instead, students are starting a new tradition: Linn-Mar seniors being recognized for exemplifying the characteristics of perseverance, respect, integrity, determination and empathy — or PRIDE.
The change, which began last spring after homecoming festivities were canceled because of the pandemic, was made by district officials with input from students. Students came up with the name, riffing on the school’s mascot — a lion. On May 1, 24 students were recognized for their perseverance, respect, integrity, determination and empathy. The honors next will be given in spring 2022.
Students are nominated for the PRIDE recognition by their peers. Juniors and seniors at Linn-Mar will have the opportunity each year to write a few sentences about their fellow students and how they embody those characteristics. A committee of students and staff then reads through the nominations and chooses the top contenders. Any number of students may be chosen for the honor.
“It makes you feel so much better about those people who win because you know they totally deserved it,” said Sophia Good, Linn-Mar senior and student council president. “It’s not as much of a popularity contest.”
Last year, Good was hesitant about the loss of having a homecoming court. “Everyone wants the chance to be homecoming queen,” she said.
But as she celebrates homecoming this year without a homecoming court, she said it feels more inclusive.
PRIDE of Linn-Mar is a gender-neutral option to homecoming court. Students who don’t identify as male or female, are transgender, lesbian or gay may be recognized for the honor. Pivoting from a homecoming court to the PRIDE of Linn-Mar has been “in the works” for several years, said Linn-Mar Principal Dr. Jeff Gustason.
Gustason agreed that the practice is “more inclusive” and represents students who have done some incredible things to stand out as leaders.
Students recognized last year are empathetic and selfless, Gustason said.
“I want every student to feel a part of Linn-Mar High School,” he said.
Karla Blakely, a teacher who is the student council sponsor, read through the nominations last year.
“The responses we got last spring made me, and I think anyone who read them, incredibly proud of those students and what our school is doing,” she said.
COVID-19 precautions during homecoming
Principal Gustason said he is concerned about the potential spread of COVID-19 during the homecoming dance.
“We want people to use their own judgment, and we’re going to try to make it as safe an event as possible,” he said. The average number of students attending homecoming dances in the past has been over 1,300, he said.
Sophia Good, a student, is also concerned about a rise in cases after the dance. Good, who is vaccinated, said she is planning on wearing a mask during the dance.
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