By DENA WALDEN
“Someday, you’ll be looking back on your life. At the memories, this is gonna be one of those nights.” This line found within the lyrics of the popular Tim McGraw song “One of Those Nights” can sum up the feelings and emotions captured from this past weekend as the students of ECI attended the school’s homecoming dance.
This dance was highly anticipated for several weeks prior to the event not because COVID rules have now subsided for the most part but because a homecoming dance had not been held at the school for quite some time.
When initial planning began for this occasion, Instructional Coach and One Act Play director, Dena Walden, suggested the idea of arranging this event as a fundraiser for this year’s production. “I had several senior girls approach me about their desires to have a dance like other surrounding counties do, but I didn’t know what the reaction would be from administrators. I also knew that it would have to go before the board for approval since it was being presented as a fundraiser.”
This would be the first time in almost a decade that ECI would hold a homecoming dance, but this time things would be a lot different than what was done in the past. “When I was a student at ECI, we had a dance that was held at the Lions Club immediately after the homecoming game was over. I believe that juniors and seniors were the only ones invited to go, but I could be wrong about that because that was over 20 years ago. Immediately after the game we would all excitedly fill the clubhouse after paying our money at the door. We danced for a few minutes wearing exactly the same thing we had on at the game. This also included football players who smelled quite pungent after just changing out of their football uniforms. Depending on the outcome of the game, those players would either be celebrating a momentous victory or quite possibly adding a damper on the whole situation. A king and queen was announced shortly after we arrived. They were then adorned with the most memorable, spray painted and puff paint covered, Burger King crowns,” Walden adds.
After patiently waiting and finding out that the Board of Education approved this year’s dance as a fundraiser, the planning began. Students wanted to know all of the ins and outs since it was the first time that many of them had the chance to attend a dance like this. The idea was to have students wear dressy casual outfits that they wouldn’t get to wear to school due to uniforms. However after this was mentioned to the students, a resounding reply of, “No!” followed. Mrs.Walden wanted the students to realize that this dance was not intended to be the magnitude of prom, but since they desired to dress up, a dress code was set up to where they could wear their “Sunday best” or what they’d wear to a wedding.
The students had to make sure that their dates met the same requirements as prom as well as be approved by Principal Anetria Edenfield. The theme of the dance coincided with one of the dress up days for homecoming week which was neon related. “Time for a Glow Up” led the new gymnasium to be decorated with black lights, glow in the dark garlands, and more glow sticks and glow necklaces than one could count.
Zhidajha Carswell of Swainsboro provided her DJ services with a whole selection of music that the kids enjoyed. As the night began and progressed, approximately 100 high school students filled the gym dressed to the nines and ready to have a great time. Walden said, “The whole night was amazing because the kids were able to have a celebration of high school. They didn’t have to worry about social distancing, masks, etc. The night was about them and only them. It wasn’t about the money for me. It was about giving these kids a chance to enjoy time with their friends and live out a moment of their lives that hopefully they’ll look back on and remember fondly.”
The dance wouldn’t have been possible without the support of administrators Anetria Edenfield, Brooke Frye, and Corian Roberson. Several teachers reached out to help Mrs. Walden in the week prior, and some even gave up their Saturday night plans to help chaperone and clean up afterwards.