On Friday, Oct. 15, Kingswood Oxford students gathered in front of Alumni Hall for the first outdoor Homecoming. The sound of Taylor Swift’s “You Belong With Me” could be heard booming out of the DJ station as students began to arrive. When the sun began to set, the globe lights strung over Outlook circle flickered on, and the dance commenced.
Having a well attended school-wide event given COVID-19 was a hugely successful start to spirit week. Well-represented by all classes with approximately half the student body attending, the dance had an excellent turnout, underscoring KO students’ school spirit.
This year’s Homecoming dance was a monumental event for Kingswood Oxford students, as it was one of the first school-wide events since returning from quarantine. Although some adjustments had to be made, it was reminiscent of past Homecomings while still keeping everyone safe from the virus.
In a break from tradition, the dance was held outside due to COVID-19 protocols. Prior to the dance, many questions arose about the quality of an outdoor dance; concerns about the weather were key topics of many students’ conversations leading up to the day of the dance. Although the change of locations wasn’t initially well-received, the outdoor setting was a positive change to a typical Homecoming. One benefit of moving the dance outside was that students were able to go without masks for a change while still being conscious of the pandemic. Being able to see each other’s full faces added to the experience and the enjoyment of the dance.
Even though there was a last minute shifting of dates due to rain concerns on the original day of the dance, the students were still happy to attend the dance one day early. The flexibility of the student government and their ability to quickly rearrange the event saved it from cancellation as there was no scheduled rain date; the student government was able to move forward with the dance without a hitch. Even though the change was a bit inconvenient, the weather that night created perfect conditions for a dance with mild temperatures and a refreshing breeze.
The theme was “KOnstellations,” a creative reflection on the idea that the dance was taking place under the stars. The lights twinkling above added to the ambiance, as did the gold balloons floating around the makeshift dance floor. The combination transformed the usual outdoor eating area, making it easy to forget we were in a familiar location. Students dressed for the occasion, wearing dresses covered in stars or shiny bow ties reminiscent of constellations.
A google form was sent out to the students beforehand asking for song recommendations for the dance. “Hotel Room Service” by Pitbull and “Dancing Queen” by ABBA were popular favorites throughout the night. Students were excited by the collection of songs that were chosen by the DJ, who kept the energy high. The wide variety of music ranging from rap to classic throwbacks got everybody on the dance floor.
Although this was the first Kingswood Oxford homecoming for the freshman and sophomore classes, the spirited atmosphere and outdoor space made it stand out from other dances for the upperclassmen. With more room to move around outdoors, some students felt it was superior to past Homecomings typically held in the cafeteria. The open space in front of Alumni Hall made it easy to move around and talk with friends in addition to allowing for more room for the large group of dancing students.
At the end of the night, the DJ played the Backstreet Boys’ “I Want it That Way.” Students yelled for one more song, not wanting the dance to end. The DJ accommodated the request, sparking every student to come together to close out the night. As the final song died out, students walked to their cars with smiles on their faces, wishing the dance could have lasted just a little bit longer. Although we probably won’t have to worry about a pandemic next year, an outdoor dance is a tradition that should be kept in mind while planning future Homecomings.