It can be hard to feel motivated to go back to the school in the fall, and one of the things teens might look forward to is the big homecoming game and dance. And there's nothing that'll stir up more of a fuss than figuring out who you're going to vote to be on homecoming court.
If you're not sure what it's all about, you might be curious about how homecoming court's handled these days. We've got you covered with all the details.
Understanding What Homecoming Is
Whether you're from outside the U.S. or just not totally aware of what homecoming court is, it can help to start with the tradition of homecoming itself. Homecoming is an annual event that includes a semi-formal school dance and regular football game, but it can also include a variety of school spirit activities and parade with floats. It's a way to reunite and welcome students back, encourage school spirit, and create fun memories. It's one of those, 'you've got to experience it to understand it kind of things.'
Generally, homecoming comes around in the fall months circa October-ish. A homecoming football game is scheduled, and at this game homecoming court is (usually) announced to the attendees. While this article centers around high school homecoming court, homecoming itself has been a tradition for both high schools and colleges, with the University of Missouri credited with the first homecoming in the early 1900s.
How Schools Decide on Homecoming Court and the Different Positions
In true American public school fashion, there are no two high schools that handle homecoming court election and voting the same way. Unfortunately, there's not really a rhyme or reason as to why certain schools follow their election rules. But there are a few standard electing/voting formats and positions that the majority of schools follow:
- Some schools elect a homecoming King and Queen (from the senior class) separately and let the top runners-up fill out the rest of the court.
- Some schools elect royal representatives from each class (aka grade) to be on homecoming court.
- More traditional schools might elect just a Queen as well as several princesses to round out the court and let them choose their own escorts.
- A few schools even choose a King and his court, and then let them choose their own princesses.
- Other schools elect a King and Queen while rounding out the rest of the court with senior student council representatives.
How Gen Z's Shaking Up Homecoming Court
For all the flack Gen Z gets in the media, one thing's for certain — they're pushing back at old traditions and questioning their ethics. While there are so many reasons why homecoming court itself might be considered problematic, there are ways that some schools are adjusting to this backlash. While traditionally homecoming court positions included a King and Queen, new ways of positioning it include:
- Going gender-free: One way schools can make things more inclusive is to eliminate the gendered language used in the court. So, you can announce homecoming court monarchs/leaders/winners etc. without associating a gendered title to it.
- Electing purely on a numbers basis: Another way schools can make the selection process more ethical is by removing the strict gender lines and electing the group of people with the highest number of votes. This means you could have courts filled to the brim with only girls, guys, nonbinary pals and more.
Who's Eligible to Be on Homecoming Court?
Now, this is where things get sticky. In terms of the homecoming monarchy (aka the traditional Kings and Queens), you usually can't hold the highest title without being a senior. What grades can hold the other spots depend on your school's procedures.
For example, one North Carolina high school elects five potential Kings and Queens from their senior class to be on the court, three potential princesses and princes from the junior class to be on the court, and two representatives from the sophomore and freshmen classes to finish things off. This is one of the more complicated examples of homecoming court eligibility.
Simpler ones just involve the senior class and the students with the highest votes get to fill in the designated seats on the court.
All that's to say is that typically, students have to be in good academic standing and have a history of good behavior to be able to cast their name into the pot. But beyond that, any other qualifications depend on the school itself.
How Do You Even Get on the Homecoming Court Ballot?
No matter which rulebook your school follows, it's the students who have the final vote on who makes the court. A typical voting period lasts one to two weeks, with students campaigning for their spot. Some schools make students petition to be able to have their name on the ballot. Yup, that means kids have to go around asking for signatures to maybe be in the running.
Other schools have a much more lax of way of doing things. They just have preliminary ballots sent out to homeroom where people write in their vote. The people with the highest write-ins get their name on the official ballot.
Homecoming Court Voting and Campaigning
Once your name's officially in the running comes the time for campaigning. Some schools let kids campaign with gusto; we're talking banners, posters, fliers, and all sorts of silly goodies to promote themselves. Others have banned that level of campaigning because of how monetarily divisive it is and how quickly it can descend into madness. At these schools, people use word of mouth to try and gather supporters who'll vote for them on the final day.
The final round of voting (depending on how many preliminary rounds your school does) decides who get top spots. The top vote winners become King or Queen, with some school's selecting the rest of the court in descending order. But schools have three options for revealing the winners:
- Announce at the Homecoming Pep Rally. The pep rally is a great, low-key way of revealing who gets what spots. This takes the pressure off of figuring out the logistics for the parade/dance.
- Announce at the Homecoming Football Game. If they announce it at the football game, it usually happens after the parade when the court's called up during half-time.
- Announce at the Homecoming Dance. This isn't as common as the other two options, but some schools keep it quiet until the dance itself.
College Homecoming Courts
Like high schools, the process for homecoming courts at colleges and universities depend on each school. Generally, students must be enrolled in the college, with a good academic standing and minimum GPA requirements. At many colleges, homecoming representatives are considered ambassadors of the school, and students may be required to show leadership through things like campus involvement and community service. The election process may include voting by students, staff, and alumni.
Homecoming Court's Supposed to be Fun
Remember that no matter how your school decides who gets what homecoming court positions, it's supposed to be fun. So, let's try to keep homecoming court from a Heathers-style destruction by embracing the age-old tradition and all its quirks.