July 24, 2024

Framing the Memories

Time may March forward but Alumni Homecoming memories show that traditions stay strong

By: Martylinette Sanchez and Natalia Wolny

While Maine West has been home to current students for less than four years, for alumni, Maine West has been a place that they have kept close to their hearts, even though decades have passed since they last walked past the podium at graduation.        

Special education teacher Thomas Stettner, class of 1985, explained how homecoming used to be more of a town effort, rather than a school wide event. “When I attended Maine West there was a parade that went through Downtown Des Plaines. We went down Lee and Miner Street, and all the stores had their windows painted for homecoming. It was very much a local event,” he said.

The parade featured buoyant floats instead of decorated cars and trucks. Decorated with structures framed by chicken wire and covered with tissue paper, “they were housed over by D-wing and the week before homecoming students would all go and work on their floats,” Stettner said.

Besides floats made by clubs and student organizations, students in each grade would try and outdo each other every year.

 “Each class would make their own float and they would have competitions. Then the winner would be announced at the football game after the parade,” organizer of the Maine West Alumni Association Fred Suevel, class of 1972, said.

Beyond the parade, assembly and football game, the homecoming court was not always the tradition. “At that time we didn’t have a homecoming king. We only had a homecoming queen and her escort during the parade and dance,” Suevel said.

The process of choosing the homecoming court has always been a school-wide effort. “You would nominate somebody  from your homeroom to be on the homecoming court and you would just vote,” dean secretary Monica Murillo, class of 1975, said. “You wouldn’t go to the cafe or parade around like students do now.”  By the 1980s, “kings” became part of the court after being selected by the student body, too.

Contrary to some beliefs, Powderpuff was not a school-wide tradition until one brave Maine West student decided to question why girls did not get the opportunity to play football.  

“I was always bothered by the idea that guys got to play football and girls didn’t. One day, some friends and I decided to act on this. As Student Council president, I told my Student Council advisor and we agreed to get Powderpuff started at Maine West,” Kathie Clifford, class of 1982, said.  

Even though traditions such as Powderpuff have been added to Maine West, the spirit jug has been here since the beginning.

“The competition for the most ‘spirited class’ has always been stiff and exciting. It has been awesome to see each class try to win it every year,” PE teacher Maureen Moeller, class of 1979, said.

Murillo explained how even though Maine West has always had spirit, in past years students have surpassed her expectations. “You guys have the most spirit I’ve ever seen. In my time  it it wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t anything like it is now,” Murillo said.

Another difference, as Clifford explained, is how the dance used to be mainly couple oriented. “In the 80s, I did not notice how rare it was for students to attend without a date. As I have seen my own kids attend Maine West Homecoming dances, I am glad that they now feel the freedom to go with a date or with friends,” Clifford said.

 Although going to the Homecoming dance can seem like a daunting task, counselor Rosanna Giricz, class of 1998, explained how attending is a unique experience.

 “Homecoming is one of the few times  in  in your teenage years that you can just have fun with your friends, dress up, and enjoy life,” Giricz said. “In that sense, things have not changed much since I was in high school. We all have memories that stay with us forever and are embarrassing; I’m glad I got to live through these moments with my friends at Maine West.”

Clifford recounts how some of her fondest memories have been made at Maine West. “As Student Council president, I was given the opportunity to grow as a person, while leading a whole assembly and having every single eye on me. I’ll never forget all the fun I had here,” Clifford said.

Despite the minor differences between our homecoming now and the homecomings held years ago, assistant principal Dave Matkovic, class of 1982, says the Warrior spirit has always been primordial.

 “Homecoming is a chance to come together as Maine West Warriors no matter what year you are,”  Matkovic said.  “What we have now reminds me very much of the energy and school spirit we had back then.  Hairstyles and fashions may change, but the Warrior Spirit lives on.”

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