A taste of Homecoming Court
Here's a sampling of 2015's homecoming court.
October 11, 2015
Homecoming has come and gone, but our friends on the Homecoming Court are still here. Many people know these students. They know their names. They know who their friends are and who their friends aren’t. They nod at them in the hallways. But beneath the glitz and glam of these princes, princesses, kings and queens, are stories that many don’t know.
Homecoming court senior Hannah Kenny
Moving through the Merendon Mountains, a little boy in jeans and a blue and gold striped shirt latched onto senior Hannah Kenny’s hand. His feet were bare, yet he cradled her hand and rubbed it between his delicate palms as though she were the one that needed the warmth. As they wandered through the Honduran village, he kept holding on. Sometimes he’d peer up at her with his doe brown eyes, obscured by a haze of eyelashes and smile through rotting yellow baby teeth. His squeaky giggles made her smile.
It was March, 2015 and Kenny was on a mission trip. A dirt road wound down the middle of the village dotted with shacks made of tin scraps, mud and dirt. Their main crop is coffee beans, which grow best in high altitudes. There were coffee plants were everywhere, even on the steepest parts of the mountain. Children darted through the hills playing and sorting beans.
“We were installing water filters and little kids would run and just hold my hand and just like the comfort in knowing that it doesn’t matter that I didn’t know them and they didn’t know me, we just could support each other and we knew that we were all there genuinely to help and that was really cool,” Kenny said.
The smiles of the people in Honduras lodged in Kenny’s mind. She considers it as she sits on a black bench in leggings and a scarf. She has so much more than them and so much more than the child with no shoes that wanted to hold her hand. Yet they were unhesitant to flash their teeth- rotten or not.
“Even though so many people were going through so much and everyone is if you think about it, like not just in a developing country, like everywhere you go,” Kenny said. “Especially here, you wouldn’t think that people have things going on in their lives, but they do and some things are really, really hard but the ability to just like put on a smile and laugh and know that you’re not alone in what you’re going through, that really stuck with me and it helps me to be more patient with other people and to have more empathy when I’m trying to help other people going through what they’re going through.”
Kenny notes the similarities between her and the people of the village.
“I have things going on in my life and I understand that people have circumstances that they’re going through and no matter what’s going on, one of my strengths is being able to find the positive things,” Kenny said. “Even in mentally or emotionally draining situations, I’m able to have a good perspective and see things from a positive light, which has really helped me through a lot of life.”
Her trip inspired her to go into social work or nonprofit management. She’s learned to listen and to see situations from other people’s perspectives. Kenny’s eyes have opened wide enough to glimpse the world thanks to the little boy with no shoes, rotten teeth and a big heart.
“No matter what you’re going through, you’re not alone,” Kenny said. “And it’s not your situation or circumstances that make you unique, it’s how you choose to handle them and how you choose to help other people.”
Homecoming court junior Trevor Callahan
The football fell into the hands of the running back. His goal now was to avoid being tackled by eleven other people. As he sprinted 60 yards, junior Trevor Callahan achieved the big play that changed his life-
His fifth grade touchdown.
That first touchdown propelled him into a passion for excelling at whatever he does. Excelling isn’t always easy. It takes hard work, commitment and motivation. There are times where that hard work is tested. Callahan recalls a time he was tested.
“Last year on the JV team, we lost to Grandville pretty bad,” Callahan said. “Actually we were getting destroyed. It was tough; you don’t ever want to lose like that. Moments like that make you think, ‘I’m gonna work a ton harder cause I don’t wanna let that happen.’”
When defeats like that happen, Callahan proves he can overcome those challenges and progress further.
“Last year for JV season I opened against Fruitport,” Callahan said. “ I scored a defensive touchdown and then some of the seniors on the varsity team were in the crowd chanting my name and stuff. That was really cool. That made me proud of myself.”
Callahan seeks to do well not only on the football field, but also in the classroom.
“I makes sure all my grades are good in school,” Callahan said. “I would love to get into coaching or anything with football.”
Callahan’s exceptional performance and devotion to football has earned him a place on the varsity team this year.
“Football has been tough at times,” Callahan said. “Either we’re not winning or maybe I’m not playing how I want to, but I just keep working hard. Ever since I was little, it’s always been something I love doing. Now that I get to be on varsity to play football at that level, it’s my favorite thing.”
Homecoming court sophomore Jack Nicholson
The crisp winter air loomed outside the windows of Rosy Mound Elementary School, but the third-graders inside were safe from the snow.
“Everyone was wearing like a jacket and snow pants,” sophomore Jack Nicholson said with a sheepish smile. “I was in the third grade so like four feet tall and I would come to school with my snow pants on and my jacket and everything to go to class. As soon as I got to my classroom, I started to take off my stuff and put it in my cubby. I took off my jacket and then took off my snow pants and I wasn’t wearing any pants.”
Nicholson’s story is punctured by laughter. The odds of a silly third-grader growing up to be voted onto the Homecoming Court seem slim, but for Nicholson, this opportunity happened twice in a row. Voted in as a freshman and now as a sophomore, Nicholson’s excited yet still humble.
“I love it, it’s awesome,” Nicholson said. “People are so nice and the supporters are really nice.”
He’s quiet at first, but once you get to know him, he’s a kind and outgoing person with funny stories to tell. With a water bottle in his hand, he glances into the distance to laugh and think about why the kid who forgot to wear pants to school was on the Homecoming Court for the second time.
“My girlfriend and I have been dating for just over two years now and everyone thinks it’s just super cute and adorable, so they were just like, ‘Let’s just put them together for Homecoming Court,'” Nicholson said. “It’s really nice for people to do that. It’s really sweet.”
But inside, he’s still the same kid that forgot to wear pants to school.
“I just ended up in my underwear at school so I just kept my snow pants on during class. It was kinda weird, everyone was like ‘Jack, why are still wearing your snow pants?’ I was like ‘It’s cold.'”
Homecoming court freshman Tatum Van Andel
Freshman Tatum Van Andel was on the Homecoming Court. With all the hype surrounding Homecoming, that seems to be what’s on everyone’s mind. But Van Andel has a little more on hers.
She wants to become an oncologist. An oncologist is a doctor who specializes in treating people with cancer. The three main types of oncologists are medical, surgical and radiation oncologist. These different types of oncologists often work together to treat a person with cancer.
Van Andel’s grandma had cancer.
No one knew how serious the cancer was. That’s why her dream job is to help the families of cancer patients through the process. She doesn’t want other people to go through the pain of fearing for the life of someone they love like she did.
Family’s important to Van Andel. One of her favorite memories is going to see her great grandmother.
“When I was little, we went to Washington state to visit my great grandma and we got to boat around Puget Sound,” Van Andel said.
But even with the ambition, she’s still had Homecoming in the back of her mind.
“I didn’t think I would be on Homecoming Court but I think it’s a cool experience that my classmates thought of me in this way,” Van Andel said.