Pepfest Preparation

2014 homecoming committee works to set a great kickoff to the week

Behind every homecoming, the hardworking junior homecoming committee works to make it happen. The week filled with festivities is the result of months of organizing, brainstorming, planning and troubleshooting. All the preparation is maximized in one crucial night before the pepfest. Late Thursday night, and the Owatonna High school was nearly deserted, except a few janitors and the 2014 homecoming committee running on caffeine and a sense of urgency.

Twelve hours later, the OHS gymnasium was  transformed into a micro Disneyland, complete with the promise of dreams coming true. “We were all really stressed out right then–we had so much to do in so little time and I had no idea how we were going to get this all done,” said co-chair Grace Pyatt. Jenna Rhodes joined Pyatt in co-chairing, as well as choreographing all the dancing for the pepfest inspired by Youtube videos and their own combined dance experience. Rhodes earnestly agreed with Pyatt, saying that she did not feel prepared at all. “Everyone was doing a great job, but it was just all so much.”

Julie Haugan, math teacher and advisor of the Student Council and homecoming committee, disagrees with her students. “This group is one of the most put together groups I’ve ever seen. I haven’t been available the past few weekends, so these guys took the initiative to practice at Willow Creek (Middle School) starting about three weeks ago. Normally, the entire pepfest is learned tonight.” Haugan emphasizes that she is extremely impressed with this committee’s work ethic and organization.

In addition to learning the dance, the committee made props for the skits, find costumes, memorize their scripts, also written by Pyatt and Rhodes. Figuring out the logistics of the lighting and sound equipment was not a particularly easy task in such an old building. Traditionally, this set up would take all night, sometimes even into the early morning hours. Students normally sleep over in an effort to complete everything. However, excellent planning by the committee allowed most of the members to be home by midnight in order to get some rest before the 5:45 a.m. rehearsal.

Despite the tensions and lack of sleep, the overall mood in the gym was excited for what the next day would bring. Lucas Arndt, decorations chair, said that he really enjoys doing these kinds of things to make OHS a better place. Classmates Jack Redman and Matt Reinhard agree. “I’m actually really thankful I get to be here tonight, helping out,” said Redman. Reinhard said his favorite part of the night was “busting the moves” as Sully from Monsters Inc with his partner Maria Goldberg, aka Mike Wazowski. “Practicing some of that edgy material was pretty great.”

Exhausted but completed, the homecoming committee was able to polish their performance the following morning. The group then was able to pull off the real thing for their eager classmates during the pepfest. After such a great kick off, this next week will have a lot to live up to and the work is far from finished. All the logistics of Monday’s exciting coronation were facilitated by the committee, and the group continues to prepare for each of the events throughout the week. Friday’s parade will feature the homecoming royalty, junior royalty and individual floats built by fall sports and activities. The committee was responsible for acquiring flatbeds for the floats, as well as finding and scheduling drivers, ensuring the safety of all those attending the parade and carrying out an efficient take down after it is over. Following Friday night’s football game against Rochester Mayo, the homecoming committee is providing the After Game Blast 9 p.m.-12 a.m. in the practice fields featuring the ultimate teen flick, High School Musical. Saturday morning will be spent preparing the Owatonna Junior High gymnasium for the evening’s ‘ball’; the annual homecoming dance. While their classmates disperse after the dance, the homecoming committee will stay on site to tear down so that by Sunday morning, no one would know that this gym would have hosted hundreds of boppin’ teenagers.

Homecoming week is a great time to revel in school spirit and brim with the pride of one’s hometown. It is important to remember that these celebrations and memories would fall flat if it were not for the intense dedication of this group of committed individuals.