ISHPEMING - Fall means football games, and one football game in particular serves as the basis for one of the biggest high school celebrations for the school year.
Many of the high schools and even colleges in the area just finished celebrating Homecoming, the traditional week to welcome alumni back to the school's campus.
In support of each school's football team, the week of homecoming typically features daily activities, contests and pep rallies to get the entire student body fired up and ready to play.
Although homecoming brings all the students of a particular school together, many of the traditions for the area's high schools allow for some competition between the freshman, sophomore, junior and senior classes.
A running tradition for the students at the Negaunee, Ishpeming and Westwood high schools are dress up or spirit days. Each day of the week of homecoming is designated with a particular theme, with each class awarded points for each student who dresses up according to the theme.
This year theme days for Negaunee included "Dress Like Your Parents Did in High School" and "Crazy Sock Day" for Westwood students. Typically the day of the homecoming football game finds students dressing in their school colors.
Class competition continues at Westwood, Negaunee and Ishpeming with decorating contests - parade floats for Negaunee and school hallways or walls for Westwood and Ishpeming.
With each class in the school charged with building or decorating a float, wall or hallway, the students are given a theme, such as Cities at Negaunee or Fairy Tales at Ishpeming, with the more elaborate designs and presentations more likely to win the votes of the judges, usually school officials.
Negaunee's Cities theme found students decking out their school hallways to represent different cities - Las Vegas for the seniors, New York City for the juniors, the North Pole for the sophomores and Bikini Bottom (the fictional home of cartoon character Spongebob Squarepants).
"We only have two days," said Negaunee senior class student council officer Samantha Allyn. "It normally works out pretty well."
Each school's student council gets involved with the planning, both of the competitions and the pep rally held during school the day of the big game.
"We do the games for the homecoming assembly. We plan the assembly and we do the homecoming dance, which is semi-formal this year," said Ishpeming Student Council senior class president Casey Beaudry.
For the all similarities between each school's homecoming celebrations, the schools do have individual traditions that set them apart.
"One of our new traditions is to have fireworks," said Mindy Harrington, a senior and student council president at Westwood. The fireworks are set off at halftime of the homecoming game.
"It makes the game special and different from other games," Harrington said.
At Ishpeming, the football players get an extra game-day boost from a breakfast prepared for them by the school's cheerleaders, Beaudry said.
Negaunee starts off homecoming day with chanting matches between the classes while the decorated hallways are being judged.
"The seniors stand by the door and yell "seniors" as loud as they can," Allyn said.
Johanna Boyle can be reached at 906-486-4401. Her e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.