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Millcreek Journal

Homecoming kicked off golden jubilee for Cottonwood High

Sep 30, 2019 04:54PM ● By Julie Slama

Students get their faces painted to celebrate Cottonwood High’s 50th birthday before the school’s homecoming game. (Julie Slama/City Journals)

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

Crowds of students, alumni, faculty and family filed into their homecoming football game not only wearing Colt gear, but with painted faces and with gold beads draped around their necks.

Given that the 50th anniversary is known as the “golden anniversary,” the beads were fitting for both the school’s colors and to commemorate Cottonwood High’s 50th, a celebration which will stretch over a two-year period, Principal Terri Roylance said.

“We’re going to celebrate all year this year and next year,” she said. “Our first graduating class was in 1971, but we’re so excited, we’re starting now.”

The kick-off to the two-year celebration started with free food, birthday cake, games and face painting as a tailgating event Sept. 6 before the homecoming game against Skyline High. 

At many of the sporting events, performing arts nights and other activities, there will be an alumni area, so former students and teachers can return to their alma mater and sit together at this year’s and next year’s events.

“We will welcome and recognize our alumni at each event as they are part of this celebration,” Roylance said. “We’d love to honor some of our outstanding alumni in each area, recognize them and have them speak to students.”

In the spring, there will be an alumni event tying into a baseball game, said Jane Metcalf, who is Cottonwood Alumni Association co-president with Nanette Amis. 

“This is going to be an ongoing celebration, bringing together our community, bringing back our alumni, so students can see former students’ successes,” she said.

As part of the celebration, the school’s hall of fame wall will be updated with alumni honorees and students and alumni can look at old yearbooks and photos in the library.

However, this homecoming was more of an upbeat event, with music blaring as students tried to outlast one another in a headstand contest.

“It’s a lot of fun for our families; we have a ton of parents who also are alumni,” Amis said, adding that she was a graduate of the class of 1983. “Some of my kids have had the same teachers I have. My kids went to the same elementary, junior high and high school as I did.”

Seniors Angela Black and Sarah Birrell were talking to classmates before filing into the game.

“I’m making sure everyone feels welcome and are making friends,” said Black, who is the school’s Peer Leadership Team president. “This is way fun and it helps with our school spirit.”

Birrell said the activities celebrating the 50th are already building a sense of community at the school.

“It’s our homecoming game and we’re here to cheer and bring school spirit and come together as a family, huddling together on the bleachers,” she said. “Last year, when we won our homecoming game, we stormed out onto the field.”

With homecoming activities and traditions at halftime—and honoring the recently announced state teacher of the year, English teacher Lauren Merkley—and a homecoming dance the next night to top it off, it was just the kick-off to the school’s 50th celebration. 

Already being planned is an arts night in the spring that will include students and alumni to perform with choir, jazz, full orchestra, possible scenes from all the school musicals and present their artwork in the visual art show, said instrumental director Amber Tuckness, who asks alumni who wish to participate to contact the main office.

“We have commissioned some songs to be written by our alumni in honor of the celebration and want to perform those in May,” said Tuckness, who has taught at the school for 22 years. “This 50th will bring together all the areas, drama, arts, SBOs, clubs—not just sports, and AMES (Academy for Math, Engineering and Science) students as well. We usually have a lot of students come back and this brings a positive morale to our community.”

While the plans are still being finalized for all the celebrations over the next two years, Roylance said they are finding all sorts of treasures hidden in closets while looking to see if there was a time capsule buried when the school was built.

“I haven’t found any time capsule buried or information about it, but we can do it to mark our 50th,” she said. “We did find some old girls’ PE jumpsuits that have a goofy horse on the back of them. There’s no way our girls would wear them today.”