The History of Homecoming Queen

The past, present, and future of the SHS Homecoming Court


1996 Sycamore Yearbook

Featured above is a picture from a 1996 Sycamore yearbook of the crowned homecoming queen.

Celebration, parade, joy and excitement are words long associated with the homecoming celebration. Along with these words has also come a stereotypical and often harmful view of what homecoming court represents. The court is a way to celebrate the students, but how have we changed into a modernized court from the dramatized version we see in the media?

    The norm of movies and media have long presented an almost unattainable version of homecoming queen. When imagining a traditional homecoming court, what comes to most people’s minds is a popularity contest made to crown the most popular students in front of their classmates. When discussing this stereotype, SHS graduate and 2021 homecoming queen Deeya Prakash said, “In general it’s been a toxic thing. I mean you always watch the rom-com, and that one blonde girl is really mean to everyone else and just tries to become homecoming queen [or] prom queen. It’s like this whole story of her villain arc and how the homecoming queen or court is painted. So in terms of media, that’s not what it’s like in reality.”

   So how has our court changed from this image in the media to reality? What did they get wrong and what was entirely forgotten? Generations shift and change, as do the values of the people in them. In this vast sea of changes, social events like homecoming were not forgotten. But how exactly did they change at SHS?

   Homecoming court at SHS started with your traditional king and queen. Looking at the photos from the ’50s and ’60s is surreal. These kings and queens embody our idea of a court right from a movie. With the crowning ceremonies, puffy dresses, (and even people on thrones), these old homecoming pictures seem to emulate what many imagine when they think of homecoming. However, a problem arises when looking at these pictures: these courts and many other social events of the past have historically left out people of color.

   When talking about her experience winning homecoming queen, Prakash said, “the media, books, [and] tv shows never really represented homecoming queen in any light that resembled me. So to go to Sycamore Highschool, a predominantly white institution, and be given that title meant so much more than anybody can quantify. Homecoming queen isn’t a huge deal, but for somebody like me, a brown girl who did a lot of academic things at school, it was a really big deal.” This media projection has long excluded people of color. The only way to truly create a modernized court is diversity. 

   Representation is important, and it is extremely important that the people of color at SHS feel like their homecoming court does not count them out of the student body. Many minorities of people, such as disabled, queer, and POC students, have not been awarded these kinds of social awards in the past. As the court has changed and diversified, more people of color have been awarded the titles they rightfully deserve. The inclusion of multiple different kinds of students must continue because our court is nothing if it does not represent the student body.

   Popularity has long been associated with these kinds of social titles, but this does not always represent the students in the best way. “The homecoming court is based on the student’s votes, not on who is most popular but on the students who have good attitudes, are kind, respectful, and fun to be around,” said Anna Hewitt, 12. Anna, a member of the student council, talks about how our court is chosen. The process of electing a homecoming queen and king has been made out to be a popularity contest by the media. However, in more modern years at SHS, this is not the case. The main goal of the court is to provide a fun way to bring the students together by voting on a strong member of the student body.

   The reason that homecoming court exists is for the students. It celebrates outstanding students and awards them in a fun and exciting way in front of their peers. “I did not campaign at all, actually. All my friends did for me, which was very sweet because I did not think I would win. And as I’m sure you know, the title of homecoming queen is very much historically not awarded to a person of color, a girl who’s involved in the newspaper, [or] a girl who plays golf, so it was a very cool ability to me that I didn’t even consider until it just happened,” Prakash explains when asked about her running process. The removal of popularity being the main deciding factor in the court is very important for it to correctly represent the students.

   A court made by students for students must accurately represent the student body. The reality of homecoming court is much more than the stereotypical version we have been raised on. In reality, the court at SHSis just another way to celebrate the homecoming season and be involved in the community. As our school has adapted and changed through the years, so has the court. We have come so far, but it is important to remember a diverse and inclusive student body deserves a diverse and inclusive court.