Homecoming provides an important opportunity

Harper Stull | The Chronicle

A person stands on the edge of a vibrant dance floor, where the music’s rhythm pulses through their veins, but they remain an invisible observer in the shadows. Picking out a dress or suit, shoes, deciding on a hair and makeup look and most importantly, a group or date to go with.

It’s the unspoken invitation that never arrives.

I feel there is an unspoken stress around Homecoming among many students. This is not because of administration, rules or the theme. Having to coordinate an outfit and plans may be stressful, but the true problem with Homecoming often lies in the messy and stressful process of finding a friend group to go with. With the definitive grouping that Homecoming forces friends into, many people may find themselves left out.

I have both witnessed and also been a part of the exclusion of others for Homecoming and Prom, and I’ve also been the one excluded. While it seems easy to just brush it off and act like nothing happened, the impact such actions have on the people being excluded can be devastating. The feeling of not being wanted and valued enough to get a simple invitation to dinner and pictures, being the odd friend out, the pity addition. The stress of deciding whether or not to still go, or even to go alone.

The problem with Homecoming is not exclusive to the dance itself. High school is known for its cliques, bullying and social groups. Not having a group on Homecoming is just a small part of a large problem. It can lead to students feeling socially isolated and alone. With many school and nation-wide initiatives that are meant to help combat social isolation and prevent suicide, Homecoming is a great way to see those missions out in real time.

If we come together as a community, we can help create a welcoming and supportive environment for everybody, where a school dance can be the lighthearted and enjoyable event that it is, not a stressful and drama-inducing night.

Exclusion on the whole would be difficult to get rid of, but Homecoming does not have to be yet another occasion where friend groups turn their backs on those who do not have people to go with.

Especially at the start of the school year, Homecoming creates a golden opportunity to step out of our comfort zones and make an impact on someone else’s Homecoming experience. A simple invitation can go a long way. Welcoming somebody new into your group may also give you another dance partner and the opportunity to meet someone you otherwise would not have known. It does not take much, but even that can make someone feel like they are important, valued and loved.