Monterey homecoming brings out town

Published 12:00 am Monday, November 14, 2005

monterey &8212; It wasn&8217;t hard to find the heartbeat of Monterey Friday.

The cars overflowing from the parking lot and lining the street in the middle of the workday were a major hint.

Inside, the bankers, nurses, moms, granddads and neighbors sporting team colors and screaming Wolves cheers were another dead giveaway. It&8217;s homecoming at Monterey High School.

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&8220;It&8217;s just exciting,&8221; mom Susan Clay said from inside the school&8217;s gym. &8220;This is what they build up to all year. I would think it&8217;s the biggest event of the year.&8221;

And homecoming at MHS is more than just a student event, it&8217;s a community thing.

For a pre-kindergarten through 12th-grade school with 420 students in a country town not much bigger, big events tend to swallow everyone.

&8220;It&8217;s tradition,&8221; Principal Neeva Sibley said. &8220;This is a community-wide event. There are generations here. Three, four generations that have gone to school here.&8221;

And the way MHS does things is just a little unique. The small school has no football team &8212; not enough interested players &8212; so homecoming is tied to basketball.

Of course, half the girls chosen for the homecoming court are on the basketball team, so the queen crowing ceremony has to come a little early.

The festivities began Friday just after lunch with a pep rally, presentation of the junior high and high school court and the naming of the queens.

Friday night, the boys basketball team played first &8212; another change &8212; and the girls, escorted by their fathers, sat on the stage in gorgeous gowns. Then the girls on the team changed clothes and played ball.

Maxine Strebeck attended both events Friday, something she&8217;s done for the last five or so years.

&8220;I came especially this time for my grandson,&8221; she said of the 12th-grader who plays basketball and was an escort in the court. &8220;It&8217;s a pretty big event. I&8217;m always glad to see the children in school activities.&8221;

Attending the homecoming events was a must for Tommy Millican.

&8220;You just have to,&8221; he said. &8220;Just to support our school. For our little town it&8217;s pretty special. Just about everybody is here. Down here, everyone is so close together, they know everybody.&8221;

Senior Brittany Woodruff, who was crowned queen, has been watching the homecoming ceremonies all her life but said she never expected to be the one on the stage, a stage she helped decorate.

&8220;It took all week to get ready,&8221; she said. &8220;But it&8217;s worth it. It&8217;s fun, and people want to come back.&8221;

Homecoming planning starts when school starts, cheerleading sponsor and teacher Addilene Cannon said.

&8220;We don&8217;t have football, so this is what we do,&8221; Cannon said.

The whole school attends the pep rally, and it ranks as a favorite for the elementary students.

&8220;The best thing about this day is you don&8217;t go to school most of the day,&8221; fourth-grader Paige Bryan said.

It&8217;s getting all the students involved that makes the tradition stick, Sibley said.

&8220;This school is the center of the community,&8221; she said. &8220;People support this school.

&8220;We have wonderful parent, community support.&8221;