Shimmering and shimmying: Homecoming dance lights up the night


Kevin Zhang

Seniors Pranav Mullappalli, Rigo Gonzales, Zain Vakath, BB Ajlouny and Nikhil Devireddy pose for a picture at the photo booth in the Nichols Rotunda. The upper school hosted its annual Homecoming Dance in Nichols Hall on Oct. 14 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

The upper school hosted its annual Homecoming Dance in Nichols Hall on Oct. 14 from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m., featuring music, dancing, food and a variety of recreational activities.

All students attending the dance were required to check in between 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m. due to safety reasons. To secure their spots, students signed up using an online form sent out earlier in the week, and, in a change from previous years, students could attend the dance free of charge. Registration for the dance closed early due to Nichols Hall’s fire capacity, as according to Upper School Head Paul Barsky, over 30% more students registered than expected.

“I’m disappointed that we couldn’t have all the students but I know that we will have other opportunities,” Barsky said. “I’m excited by the energy and I’m excited by the music. Students are well behaved, and people seem to be having fun as they’re checking in.”

Harker alum David Belogolovsky (‘09) was invited as a professional DJ for the night, and the Nichols atrium featured decorative streamers and party lights. Through a community playlist form, students had the opportunity to suggest songs, which largely consisted of hip hop and rap music.

“[I came to the dance] because I wanted to go with my friends,” ninth grade attendee Christy Ma said. “Everybody can dance together and have fun and eat food.”

Students dressed up in formal wear such as suits and ties or dresses for the event. Besides the dance, students could also participate in a variety of other recreational activities: in upper school computer science teacher Anu Datar’s classroom, students could create friendship bracelets, play board games or card games and compete with each other in Mario Kart 8, in which up to four students raced together with a split screen projected onto the wall. In the Nichols Rotunda, students posed for pictures at a photo booth, and around the area outside of the Nichols entrance, students could play other games such as cornhole, giant Connect Four and lawn chess. Refreshments included iced water, and a snack table outside offered cakes, cookies and brownies.

“[Homecoming is] one of those quintessential American high school things, and [we have] such an intense academic culture, so let’s take a little break for once,” attendee Austina Xu (12) said. “Some people might think it’s a bit silly and whatnot, but you know, why not?”

According to upper school community service coordinator and activities director Kerry Enzensperger, planning the dance entailed various responsibilities including but not limited to reserving a space, hiring a DJ and creating a photo booth. In prior years, the Homecoming dance is typically handled by either the junior or senior class council in the form of a fundraiser. However this year, Harker ASB led by its spirit coordinator Zubin Khera (12) collaborated with Harker Spirit Leadership Team (HSLT) to organize decorations as well as the refreshments offered.

“Historically, HSLT doesn’t handle the dance,” HSLT President Sawyer Lai (12) said. “[But] this year, we were put in charge of it, so Zubin and I created a Homecoming committee that helps plan what food we would have and the decorations.”

Attendee Bowen Xia (10) looked forward to attending his second Homecoming dance at the upper school.

“I came to the Homecoming Dance last year and it was really fun, so I decided to come again this year, especially [after] seeing all the other events we had like the game room and refreshments,” Bowen said. “My favorite part was dancing to my favorite songs with my friends. I was jumping around as high as I could and it was a bit tiring but really fun at the end.”

The DJ announced the final song, which officially concluded the dance at approximately 10:30 p.m. Afterward, students on the dance floor were led out of Nichols as the Homecoming dance chaperones and HSLT stayed behind to help clean up. Remaining in the outside area for a bit longer, many students continued to chat and take their final photos of the night with friends. All students eventually made their way to the front loading zone where chaperones helped direct traffic as students departed.

The Homecoming week festivities and Homecoming Dance continue to be valued traditions in the upper school community.

“It’s a tradition,” Enzensperger said. “It’s the first dance of the year. People are excited, [and] it’s fun. We had a Homecoming dance last year, but this is one where it seems like everybody is really coming out for it.”