February 24, 2024

Grant County Herald

Community news from the prairie to the lakes

Homecoming “Game Day” nominated for award

Homecoming at WCA features an elaborate flag presentation before the National Anthem is sung by a mix of WCA and Ashby students, as well as alumni.

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West Central Area is known to have an incredible homecoming “Game Day” experience. Now the whole world knows about it, as WCA’s homecoming “Game Day” has been nominated as a finalist in the Varsity Brands School Spirit Award.

Varsity Brands, the market leader in sport, spirit, and achievement, announced that its signature school pride event, the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards, has named finalists for its 2020 School Spirit Awards. This marks the event’s fifth consecutive year of recognizing schools, organizations, and individuals across 25 categories that go above and beyond the call of duty to build school pride, student engagement, and community spirit. With over $100,000 in award money, divided among 25 categories, up for grabs, winners will be announced at an awards ceremony on May 9 at the Walt Disney World® Resort in Florida.

“The 10,000 employees of Varsity Brands are privileged to witness the power of spirit in schools on a daily basis: in classrooms, in athletic and cheer competitions, and in celebrating student achievements,” said Adam Blumenfeld, CEO of Varsity Brands. “The Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards represent our opportunity to honor superlative demonstrations of this spirit across the country while recognizing the positive impact that it can have on school and student performance. We are honored to continue our proud stewardship of this event and look forward to celebrating the ‘best of’ what our schools can represent.”

“School spirit doesn’t happen without extraordinary commitment and energy from the students, teachers, and administrators who show up and give just ‘a little more’ on a daily basis,” added Nicole Lauchaire, Executive Director of the Varsity Brands School Spirit Awards. “These everyday heroes deserve our recognition and our praise, and we believe that this year’s event will benefit from an inspiring group of finalists and a growing recognition of the strong correlation between school spirit, involvement, achievement and self-confidence.”

West Central Area Schools is a finalist in the Game Day Experience category for the community centered homecoming experience they offer at WCA.  Mr. John Zdrazil wrote the letter of recommendation and Kari Kreft wrote the following essay describing the Homecoming Game Day experience at WCA.  Photos accompanied the entry:

West Central Area Schools is very proud of their Homecoming tradition and its annual “Game Day” experience.  The all-day event is organized and facilitated by teacher and community member John Kreft.  It is designed as a true home-coming with alumni coming back to enjoy the events every year. It comes to fruition thanks to the hard work and efforts of teachers, support staff, community service organizations, school administration, and students.

We are a small, rural district of 800 students, with school buildings in three different communities in a district that spans fifty-five miles.  Building and maintaining school spirit can be challenging, but it is done with passion and intent at WCA.

Preparations begin on Monday as students paint a 20-yard logo at midfield.  This logo is designed by students in the industrial technology program.  That same logo is displayed on T-shirts by over 600 students, staff, and business employees throughout the communities on Game Day.

On Friday morning, the WCA band, cheerleaders, and royalty visit the elementary schools to get them in the Homecoming spirit; rousing students with music and cheers.  Students return to Barrett to rally the Knights during the afternoon pep-fest at the high school with more music and cheers, relays, and pie eating contests.

After school the celebration continues, as community members are invited to share in the festivities on Friday afternoon.

* Students in K-6 can partake in the Punt, Pass, and Kick competition run by local Lions and the football team.  Each child receives a bag of popcorn, with the top performers earning T-shirts.

* Elementary Cross Country Fun Run – elementary students get to join the cross-country team in a spin around the track, and later these same runners run the game balls to the field.

* Everyone’s favorite tailgating party – The Taste of WCA kicks off with Lions Clubs and civic organizations serving pre-game mainstays such as corn dogs, taco-in-a-bag, kabobs, cheese curds, “Knight” burgers, and pork chops. 

* The Honorary Homecoming Captain (similar to a parade grand marshal) flips the coin and is recognized for his/her loyalty and service.

* Area veterans are invited to participate in the on-field presentation of the American flag and the National Anthem. Vets are honored and enjoy the game free of charge with preferred seating and complimentary transportation.  Every year, Old Glory is presented in a unique and honorable way: via hot air balloon, military fly-over, human/fabric flag, a card stunt, hundreds of handheld flags and many others.

* Alumni choir members warm up their vocal cords and help the WCA choir sing the National Anthem.

* Halftime features the fan favorite WCA Marching Band Field Show, the talented cheerleaders, the Knight mascot, and the introduction of the Homecoming Royalty.

Each year the logo changes, a new Honorary Captain is chosen and a different flag presentation occurs.  The Taste of WCA may vary, but the Game Day Experience remains a treasured tradition for all, bringing everyone “home” to WCA to share in the spirit that makes our communities one.  

Game Day Experience finalists: Canby High School | Canby, OR; Costa Mesa High School | Costa Mesa, CA; Covington Catholic | Park Hills, KY; Creekside High School | St. Johns, FL; Grapevine High School | Grapevine, TX; Los Alamitos High School | Los Alamitos, CA; Saint Amant High School | Saint Amant, LA; Saint Mary’s Catholic High School | Phoenix, AZ; Templeton High School | Templeton, CA; West Central Area High School | Barrett, MN.

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