Students Attend Homecoming Tailgate Pep Rally

Triambika Dinakaran, Reporter

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  • Balei Lonnotti ’23 and Emilie Smith ’23 pose in front of their car at the pep rally. After this, they won a Panda Express gift card for having the best decorated car.

  • The cheerleaders perform a combo. They stayed the whole event, cheering and dancing.

  • The pep rally presenters watch the dance battle. They were in charge of cheering everyone up and informing attendees of the games that people were playing.

  • One of the sellers of the Westwood masks and Glow Lummi Stick poses with her cart and sign. They walked through the whole band parking lot selling these items.

  • Seniors Zoe Barret, Campbell Pushkin, Grace Forshay, and Jazmin Torres pose at the camera while sitting on their car. They are part of the Spirit Girls of Westwood, and cheered everyone on throughout the event.

  • The SunDancers perform a dance number. They performed twice, once in the football field and also once in the parking lot.

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As the sun began to set, the Westwood band parking lot was filled with honks and colorful car windows, while SunDancers and cheerleaders danced and waved their white pom-poms in front of the Warrior Bowl, on either side of a DJ mixer stand blasting music. Cars were parked at safe distances from each other, ensuring the event remained safe. Students had gathered for Westwood’s first-ever Homecoming tailgate pep rally on Friday, Nov. 20.

Although pep rallies generally provide an opportunity for sports teams to share their successes, most teams could not make it to the pep rally due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Fortunately, Westwood’s varsity tennis team made an appearance, presenting their plaque from winning UIL state after defeating Plano West on Tuesday, Nov. 17th. They were met with great appreciation from staff and students. 

“Presenting our State Championship plaque to everyone was amazing,” Tennis team member Aashish Dhanani ‘22 said. “You could see everyone clapping for us and the fact that the tennis team won state made it a whole lot better. I think that overall, the event was set up in a very safe environment. Every single person had their masks on and were 6 feet apart. I also liked the system of being in cars because it limited contact between people but at the same time it was super entertaining. I miss how we were able to sit as one unit enjoying the shows. I also miss the environment. The gym setting felt really ‘at-home’ and it made things a whole lot more fun.”

Football Spirit Girls were present as well, wearing bright orange t-shirts. They contributed to the school spirit with joyful cheering and applause. Attendees also caught a glimpse of the football team headed to the homecoming game on a bus, adding to the excitement of the event. 

“I think the tailgate was a great way to keep the hoco spirit this year while being safe. We [Spirit Girls] really enjoyed participating in the event,” Spirit Girl Jazmin Torres ‘21 said. “Wearing our Spirit Girl shirts was one way we showed our spirit! It was great seeing so many students and teachers come together during this time, even though it was something new.”

Several students painted ‘Sko wood’, ‘Senior 2021’, and ‘Hoco Pep Rally’ on their car windows in white and orange. Some also showed up in orange outfits, facepaint, and wigs to show school spirit. Students danced and sang to the DJ’s music throughout the rally, while waving lummi-sticks in the air from their cars. Westwood masks and lummi-sticks were sold at the pep rally by Westwood Pacesetter sponsors, who also helped arrange the event.

“I’m really thankful that Westwood found a way for the student body to enjoy Homecoming festivities while also staying safe,” Spirit Girls President Grace Forshay ‘21 said. “While the tailgate may not have been ideal, it was really fun to see everyone who participated, and they gave out some pretty cool prizes. It was nice to be able to send off the football team as they traveled to their game, too. I’m glad that Pacesetters was able to work closely with [Principal Dr. Mario Acosta] to put together this event.”

Principal Dr. Acosta stepped in to make the event more engaging with fun, silly tasks for students to compete in. Students quickly rummaged through their cars to find french fries and car insurance papers before others. Other tasks involved performing the best cartwheel or wearing the most orange outfit. Winners won prizes ranging from $100 Visa gift cards to Westwood blankets and t-shirts launched from atop the staircase that was overlooking the Warrior Bowl and the parking lot, which was decorated with orange balloons.   

“I thought the pep rally was super fun, and that [Westwood] handled the circumstances in a really creative way,” Lauren Smith ‘21 said. “My favorite part was literally just doing the cha-cha slide in the parking lot. I feel like that song is just the epitome of any school gathering. Overall, it felt really good to do something semi-normal and forget about everything else, even if it was just for a little bit.”

One of the highlights of the event was the SunDancers’ performance. The dancers assembled on the Warrior Bowl field for their performance. Bright green and orange streamers swooshed in the air as the girls twirled and glided across the field, performing their routine to the song Confident with grace. At the end of their routine, the girls marched back to the parking lot to continue dancing for the remainder of the rally.

“I missed performing at pep rallies and I feel like the tailgate didn’t have that same vibe [or] spirit as normal pep rallies, since many stayed in their cars and there wasn’t as big of an audience,” SunDancer Jessica Hao ‘22 said. “However, I do think the tailgate gave us the opportunity to come up with a lot of creative and new ideas and games that can be integrated into normal pep rallies in the future.”

The event ended at around 5:40 p.m., with several students and staff packing up to head to the Kelly Reeves Athletic Complex for the homecoming football game against Mcneil High School.