life in and around NYC is insane

Friday, April 10, 2009

the worst homecoming ever

I think one of the reasons I can't sleep at night when I know Jen is driving around...I am haunted by the memory of Homecoming 2006.

Jen was a junior, and on the varsity cheerleading team. Becca, a freshman, was on dance team and in the freshman class skit. my day was spent trying to juggle my responsibilities as a dance team mom (we had a fundraiser, the moms were selling refreshments) with my interest in watching my kids perform.

our school's homecoming isn't very elaborate. I mean, we don't even do a dance after the game, just a day of fun for the kids, a chance to show their school spirit.

the night before the game, there's a pep rally in the gym. the cheerleaders and dance team perform, the marching band plays, and the members of the homecoming court (all graduating seniors) perform funny skits.

the main action is on the football field the following day.

first there's a parade, where each of the four classes marches with a float they've built. the members of the homecoming court ride the parade route in convertibles. our school band marches, accompanied by the dance team and the cheerleaders. the band/cheerleaders/dance team from the other high school in our district also march (and our school band marches in their homecoming parade), as do the bands from both middle schools. and there's participation from our local volunteer fire departments as well. the parade route is maybe a mile long.

at the end of the parade, the three guest bands perform on the football field. our band doesn't perform, because they will do their presentation at halftime, right before presentation of the homecoming court. the king and queen are not announced, however, until after the football game is over.

after the parade the four classes present their skits, each class trying to be witty and funny and entertaining. the winning class will be announced after the game.

what we moms did not know...was that the President of the Student Executive Council, a very popular student named Jeff, was supposed to serve as master of ceremonies during the class skits, but never showed up, and one of the other members of the council had to fill that role.

the skits are usually over by 11:30, and the game doesn't start until 1:00, but a lot of the kids hang out at the school during the lull.

it was during the lull that the dance moms began to notice...some of the kids were very, very upset. as in, not your usual teen drama upset, but completely and totally devastated.

the football game was already under way when we moms found out why everyone was so upset, and why Jeff hadn't shown up that morning.

after pep rally the night before, Jeff and some of the other seniors went out to the diner for a bite to eat. the story I heard was that they stayed out late, because they were re-working the script for the senior class skit. Jeff drove three other kids home, but never made it home himself.

he was driving home along the service road of the Long Island Expressway, when he apparently lost control of his car and crashed into a tree. he did not survive. he was only 17.

his poor mother didn't realize he was missing until she got up the next morning. she called all of his friends, but no one knew where he was. it was awhile before he was found, because the car was hidden by the foliage along the roadway.

at half time, the school principal got on the loud speaker. you could have heard a pin drop as he asked for silence so that he could make that awful announcement.

the remaining festivities were postponed to another day. I left after the announcement, but I'm told the second half of the game was played in stunned silence.

700 students went to the funeral.


2 1/2 years later, they still haven't painted over Jeff's parking space -- members of the student executive council are entitled to a reserved space in the student parking lot, and they get to paint their space with their name and any other designs they care to add.

when Jen is on the road at night, I think of Jeff's mother....and I can't sleep until I hear Jen's car in the driveway and I hear her come through that door.

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