The History of Homecoming Celebrations at Minnetonka High School

Anna Geldert, Deputy Editor, Student Life

The History of Homecoming Celebrations at Minnetonka High School

Homecoming is a long-standing tradition at Minnetonka and other high schools everywhere. Historically, homecoming is a time to welcome back former students who “come home” to their town and high school for the weekend, but, today, it is more of a celebration of school pride. Year after year, Minnetonka students have marched in the homecoming parade in Excelsior, played in the powderpuff game, and gotten dressed up for the dance. So, how is homecoming week different this year as opposed to in the 1960s?

The answer to this question is. . . surprisingly not very different. Sure, there’s a new student population every year, and new music at the dances, but the main events have all remained essentially the same as what they were when Minnetonka held its first homecoming over fifty years ago. This is due, in part, to the long history of the Minnetonka community and its commitment to tradition. 

“The traditions at Minnetonka are very deep-rooted,” explains Theresa Ellis, math teacher and adviser for Student Government at MHS.  “We have a really strong foundation with our community supporting us, so we’ve been able to do all of these events over and over again.” 

Ellis was also a student at Minnetonka when she was in high school. She describes how she got to participate in many of the same events as students today, including powderpuff, the pep fest, the crowning of homecoming king and queen, the parade, the football game and the dance. Since then, some homecoming traditions have really taken off, while others have faded out entirely. 

“We used to have the ‘Grand March,’” Ellis recalls. “The Grand March was when all of the kids that were going to homecoming would come and get escorted in the auditorium. All the community and family members would come and watch, and we’d have teachers and staff announce the students, and they’d come together and wave. ”

Ellis also remembers how other traditions have changed slightly as well. With fewer students attending the dance back then, the high school was able to get a band to come play. Now, she says, since everyone has such an “eclectic” taste in music, it would be impossible to get a band that satisfies everyone. The rise in attendance at the dance is also the reason it got moved from the cafeteria to the West Gym.

The history of homecoming also plays an important role in helping to plan and improve events year to year. As Student Government gets together to plan out the week, they rely on feedback from previous years to make sure each event runs smoothly. 

Student Body President Hayes Richman, ‘20,  says he’s grateful for the guidance other previous Student Government members left behind. 

“For every event you run, you’ll do a write up,” explains Richman. “You’ll write about what went well, what went wrong, and what you propose for next year, so that the kid who runs it next year knows what to do. That’s helped a lot with organization.” 

With parade, game and dance numbers all higher than ever, this organization is key to making the week successful.

“It’s incredibly satisfying to see them all go to plan and work out, having everyone say ‘yeah, that was super fun!’” says Richman.

In the end, however, what really sets some homecoming years apart from others is student involvement. Whether that’s getting on your blue and white Tonka gear, coming out to support the powderpuff girls, or cheering loud at the football game, homecoming week is about taking pride in our school and enjoying the big community we share at MHS. Let’s make homecoming 2019 a great one, Tonka!