Timeless traditions

Ellie Ritter and Danika Siver

High school is “four years you’ll always remember,” Student Government Association president Audrey Maloof said. To make these four years even more memorable, the SGA is bringing back some of the most popular traditions.

The senior class of 1999 crushed its competition.  “Float building is a great bonding experience for everybody in a class,” Richter said. “It’s one of the longest running Decatur traditions.”
The senior class of 1999 crushed its competition. “Float building is a great bonding experience for everybody in a class,” Richter said. “It’s one of the longest running Decatur traditions.”

Some revivals already took place this year: the SGA reintroduced our homecoming dance, the Powder Puff Game and homecoming float building.

2014 Sophomore Homecoming Float
This year’s winning homecoming float, made by the sophomore class of 2017. The float is based on the movie, “Up,” and represents their part of the homecoming theme, Disney.

In the past, Maloof said, “students have honored [the traditions] a lot.” Maloof believes that giving students more events to look forward to is key to bringing back school spirit.

“I think that these traditions are what makes those years,” Maloof said. “You’re not gonna remember everything that your teachers say – you’re going to remember going to the football games or the dances or prom.”

Even alumni from decades ago can recall some traditions from their times at the high school. Eddie Fowlkes, Decatur alumnus and former teacher, loved the event called Skit Night, where every class would come up with a skit to perform for the school.

“It was just something we always thought was the coolest thing, getting to see your schoolmates do the most ridiculous stuff,” Fowlkes said.

“There was one year, back when I was there, where the seniors performed a skit that poked a little fun at some of the teachers,” he said with a chuckle. “They would act like them, say some of the teachers’ little phrases, and just try to imitate their voices. It was all in good fun.”

Fowlkes said that the students would all get excited to compete for the best skit. “We’d perform them in the old gym, and it’d be packed full, so everyone would be crammed together,” Fowlkes said. “It made us feel like a community just laughing together, you know, even though we were competing and everyone would be cheering for their class.”

Cara Cassell, an English teacher at Decatur for 24 years, remembers one year where Fowlkes himself performed a skit for the school. He got up on stage and performed a song, surprising all of the students and faculty.

“He was such a shy, unassuming man, and he just stole the stage with this great musical performance,” Cassell said.

Though some of Fowlkes’ favorite functions like Skit Night aren’t coming back, the SGA is planning special events to reward the seniors – something Decatur has had for years, Richter said.

“A lot of seniors also see it as a senior privileges thing,” Richter said. “We were once on the bottom, but now since we’re on the top, we get these privileges.”

Richter and Maloof said that the “senior privileges” the SGA is planning include Senior Tea and Senior Fun Day. One tradition that Lynn Hosking, an alumnus and current teacher at Decatur, wishes to see come back, however, is the senior run. On the final day of classes, Hosking said, the seniors would run from the top floor of the school all the way down to the bottom hall, then out the door.

“I used to love the senior run, and it went away, and it was my favorite thing, and it makes me want to cry every year,” Hosking said, her voice rising. She paused for a moment, then continued, “There was always so much energy, and the kids were just so, so happy.”

Fowlkes remembers what the privileges and events meant to the seniors as well.

“The seniors would always get to do little things like that,” Fowlkes said. “It was real important to them every year, because they felt like they deserved it.”

Another tradition Fowlkes recalls is the Powder Puff Game, which the SGA reintroduced this year. Fowlkes said the game is simply a football game between the junior and senior girls.

“There was one year where they had a whole long week trying to get everyone real excited for [the Powder Puff Game],” Fowlkes said, “and there was a crowd almost as big as the one at the actual game.”

Certain traditions, however, like the Sadie Hawkins dance, disappeared from Decatur’s calendar. Fowlkes said that in his time at Decatur, he “saw many traditions come and go every year.”

Why did these traditions fade away in the first place? Cassell believes that “students aren’t always responsible with them, and they don’t appreciate what we’re trying to do.”

The SGA understands that there have been problems in the past. Student behavior is a problem they will address, Richter said.

“Really, I think [students] will accept this responsibility and be proud to have it,” she said.

Richter said that the SGA is ensuring that no issues come up by taking certain safety measures, such as having parent chaperones at the events.

A senior from the class of 1998 works on a float. The floats are built using chicken wire and paper-mache.
A senior from the class of 1998 works on a float. The floats are built using chicken wire and paper-mache.

Despite the problems they’ve seen in the past, Richter said the new administration has been very open to the SGA’s ideas.

“The teachers and the administration really seem to want the students to feel like they’re a part of something,” Richter said. “They want us all to have a good high school experience.”

Cassell is one teacher who enjoys introducing traditions to our school and getting students to participate.

“I love any tradition that really has the students involved and engaged and making it happen.” She hopes that the SGA chooses traditions that are the “right fit” for each class.

To Hosking, school traditions bring together the student body. “I think we we’re really connected to other people through those events,” Hosking said.

Fowlkes agrees, and hopes that the traditions the SGA brings back will connect the students with each other more.

“I think it’s important to unite the school, to not divide it and not have it just be ‘me, me, me’ all the time,” Fowlkes said. “With every tradition, you want to make it something where everyone comes together.”