Is Homecoming rigged?

The senior class’s sweep of Homecoming Week raised questions about the fairness of Homecoming scoring. Turns out, it’s complicated. The Gauntlet dug deep to get to the bottom of all the gossip.

Mark Gharby, Section Editor

Homecoming Week is always the most hectic week of the school year.  It’s fun; it’s competitive; but is it rigged in favor of the seniors?  This question has been the talk of the hallways, so The Gauntlet decided to uncover the truth behind spirit point scoring and judging to set the record straight.

Each year, Hoco week includes a series of spirit events in which grade levels compete such as a relay race, the dance-off, the banner, the float, and the cheer. These events are centered around daily themes, and grade levels earn spirit points. At the end of the year, the grade with the most spirit points gets a free trip to Busch Gardens, courtesy of StuCo.

In recent years, students began to notice the senior class dominating Homecoming Week- the upper classmen win nearly every year. This record has caused students to question the integrity of the Student Council and the scoring of events, especially since the StuCo is regularly full of senior members.

Usually, seniors defend their spirit week victories by referring to previous experiences and learning from what other classes have successfully done. The near-graduates claim that they work harder and that they’re more organized than the other classes.

But discontented lower grades tend to accuse the system as “rigged.” Freshman, sophomores, and juniors claim that judges are biased and that the rubrics need to be changed.

In terms of judges… The Gauntlet found out that judges are chosen carefully by the student council, and each judge has to fit certain criteria, for example, they cannot have an upper school advisory. Also, judges are provided with a detailed rubric that steers them toward fairness.  Further, judges with “skills” in the area of the event are chosen purposefully.

One improvement that could be made is for StuCo to find “expert” judges, i.e., a local dance expert to judge the dance off.  This is great; however, time and availability is a problem.

In terms of rubrics… I was a StuCo class representative for two years and served as secretary last year.  From my experience, I know the rubrics are written every year to encompass the new daily themes theme. All the rubrics from year to year contain the same foundations, though, to ensure fairness.

This year, one of the biggest complaints about Hoco week came in regard to the banner rubric. The announced daily theme was “Washington D.C.,” however, the judges’ rubric stated the theme as “U.S.A.,” which brought a lot of unrest  because students believed it could’ve affected the judging.

The Gauntlet learned that StuCo mistakenly wrote “U.S.A.” on the rubric when they re-configured it for this year, as the two are related.  In regard to the error, a StuCo rep said he didn’t “believe that the typo affected the judging because D.C. is related to USA- a banner could have government items, patriotism, or anything like that.”

When questioned, the StuCo Executive Board admits they should have released rubrics before the event, but they told The Gauntlet that they chose not to because “It just wasn’t protocol in years past.”  In other words, rubrics have never been handed out before Homecoming Week before.

Student Council’s banner rubric









In terms of counting… At the end of each event, Judges’ votes are tallied by a faculty member. The grade levels are then put in order by who has the most points, first place to fourth place.

Each placement provides the grades with a different amount of points: Twenty-five for first place, fifteen for second place, ten for third place, and five for fourth place.

Points earned from spirit events are also counted by the student council president and checked by the student council faculty advisor, Mr. Hoonhout.

Homecoming Week’s fairness is a complex issue, with many many parts. I served on the student council for three years. From my experience, I can assure  everyone that student council does its best to be unbiased, especially the seniors who have grown attuned to the importance of fairness.  According to StuCo, this year, they’ve reflected on strengths and weaknesses, and they promise to improve.

Student Council’s role is integral to the maintenance of school spirit throughout the school year. Student Council plans every event weeks in advance, and they take a lot of time to discuss proper ways to judge and score. They are open to suggestions, and meetings are open to the public on Tuesday’s at lunch.

HOCO week final places:

1st Place: Seniors, 100 points

2nd Place: Sophomores, 53 points

3rd Place: Juniors, 49 points

4th Place: Freshman, 30 points

The Gauntlet provides an updated spirit point scoreboard on its homepage.