Going behind the scenes of the homecoming dance opened my eyes to all the hard work it takes to make homecoming go as planned. This year for homecoming, to gain creativity, activity, and service hours required for the International Baccalaureate program, I volunteered for concessions and clean up at the dance. It turned out to be more work than I expected.
Before I started, I didn’t think working concessions would be so hectic and cleaning up so time consuming. With the concessions space being so small, and there being six other volunteering students, there was constant movement and collisions. There was so much time put into clean up due to the massive mess students left behind and since there was less than two dozen who stayed after to clean.
We poured lemonade and water into little foam cups from large and heavy coolers that crowded the tabletops and then set them onto the counter as refreshments for the dancers. We would then have to carry the large and heavy coolers to refill them with ice across the school to the trainer’s room and then back to concessions each time they got empty.
“It was just chaotic. We would tear apart [plastic wrapping] to get the cups, and then we would throw [the wrapping] on the floor. Then we would rush around and fill up the water, and sometimes we would pick up cups and then they would spill, but we just rolled with it because we had to get the [drinks and snacks] out,” said Jr. Kaitlyn Onela who volunteered for concessions that night. “We also had to be like, ‘Oh, excuse me’, so we didn’t run into each other. And then we had to be careful that we didn’t slip because it was so wet on the floor [since we spilled the drinks sometimes]. And there would be waves of people that came around and we would be like ‘Oh snap! We need more water! We need more lemonade! We don’t have lemonade!’”
Clean up wasn’t any easier. After the night ended, we had to sweep and mop the floors of the concessions booth and hallways, take down decorations, and move all the lunch tables and trash cans in the cafeteria back into place. Putting the cafeteria back together took longer than expected, despite there being more students to help, because we had to keep referencing a photo of the cafeteria’s original layout to make sure the tables were in the right places.
The most frustrating part of homecoming for volunteers was clean up, especially for sophomore Maya Cooper, who did not enjoy picking up other people’s messes. “People didn’t [throw away their trash]; there are trash cans for a reason. And then you’re scraping gum off the ground, and that was disgusting,” Cooper said.
Although helping with concessions and clean up was frantic and a lot of work, everyone had fun without hitting the dance floor. “I had a lot of fun actually,” Onela said. “It was a lot of fun to help out, and even though I didn’t know some people there, we still talked. Despite all the craziness, I had a good time.” Even Cooper had a good time despite her frustration; “It was fun because I got to hang out with my friends.”
Working concessions also made everyone more appreciative of the work that goes into homecoming. “I can appreciate the effort that goes into having the snacks because I feel like a lot of people don’t appreciate it. They’re like ‘Homecoming’s lame’ or ‘The food is dumb’, but it’s a lot of work to make sure that there’s the food stocked and available for people who are hungry,” Cooper said. After doing all that work, I definitely came out of homecoming with massive respect and appreciation for everyone who has volunteered for homecoming in the past.
While there are hundreds of students out on the dance floor, there are half a dozen students working hard behind counters to make sure everyone can stay refreshed and hydrated. After the night has ended and the dance floor is cleared of all party-goers, less than a couple dozen students stay behind to clean up the mess left behind. The students who volunteer for the night are really the unsung heroes of homecoming.