Lake Wales High School Raises School Spirit and Hometown Pride with Homecoming Parade
by James Coulter
After being hampered by the ongoing pandemic for more than a year, Lake Wales High School (LWHS) raised school spirit and hometown pride during its annual homecoming parade last Thursday evening.
Several dozen float units and hundreds of students, faculty, and staff took to the streets in Downtown Lake Wales to celebrate their Highlander football team’s homecoming game. The parade was led by the grand marshal, Beverly Riley, who is this year’s LWHS support staff.
The school color guard and marching band kicked the parade off. Also participating were representatives from school sports teams, student councils, and other clubs and organizations including the Drama Club, National Honors Society, INTERACT Club, and Sista 2 Sista.
The parade began at Polk Avenue Elementary on 1st Street, making its way through the downtown and Lake Wailes Park area before ending at Legion Field on Lake Shore Blvd. Countless local residents lined the streets to watch the parade, with children rushing to collect candy.
Following the parade, LWHS hosted a powderpuff game with the junior and senior classmen competing against each other. The event marked the end of the school’s spirit week, which hosted various school activities throughout including themed clothing days.
Alexis Lough, a senior on the Executive Board, was one of the many students who helped organize and participate at the event. She appreciated being able to see so many people come out to revel in their school spirit, especially after the nearly yearlong pandemic.
“[I loved] seeing all the children smiling, having fun…[and] just showing a lot of spirit bringing life back to the school,” she said. “That is why I think it was the best. Since COVID, we have been out for so long. We were not able to do things we were able to do in years past. [I’m excited] for the football team, for us to win, as always…and all of us to have fun and respect each other.”
Donna Dunnson, LWHS Principal, participated that evening along with her other administrators and staff. After COVID threw a massive monkey wrench into last school year, she was excited to finally be able to host events such as this for the students.
“The kids have had a great time this week, they have really risen to the occasion, they had fun and have been attending to their academic time as well,” she said. “What I like is that it is all of the schools all together and seeing what the kids come up with. They are all very creative. We are trying to do the best we can, pushing through to give kids as normal as possible experience this week, and they are doing great.”
Jan Lewis, who serves as this year’s class sponsor, was especially pleased by spirit week. Over the past four days, the school hosted theme days and activities on the plaza during lunch. The weeklong festivities concluded with the pep rally on Friday evening.
“Spirit week has been awesome,” she said. “We have our first pep rally in a long time since a year and a half. We are taking it outside because of COVID. My executive board has worked so hard, this has all been student led, and they worked so hard to pull this spirit week off.”
Dorialys Paulino, Co-President of the Executive Board, worked hard with her team of fellow students to host that evening’s parade and powderpuff game. She has been involved with the board since her freshmen year. She always strives to raise school spirit with these events, and she loved that they were able to host something after the pandemic hampered their fun last year.
“We worked really hard to put this spirit week together,” she said. “I think we have a great [football] team who works together and plays hard and puts everything on the line so I am hoping for the best of course. I loved the parade because it is a tradition that we do every year and sadly we didn’t get one last year and it was good to have it back and bring the community together.”