Annual Homecoming Pep Rally Returns
Issue 5, Volume 112
The crowd roared to life as Stuy Legacy dancers performed to Olivia Rodrigo’s hit song “good 4 u” (2021) with cheerleaders excitedly waving pom-poms in the background. Students and teachers gathered in the third floor gymnasium for Stuyvesant’s annual Homecoming Pep Rally on October 22, held in coordination with the Student Union (SU). The pep rally preceded the Homecoming football game at Pier 40, where the Stuyvesant Peglegs Football team lodged their first home game victory of the season with a 36-20 win.
The Homecoming Pep Rally started with performances from Stuyvesant’s cheerleading team and Stuy Legacy. Several dodgeball games including Football vs. Cheer, Students vs. Faculty, and games against different grade levels were also a highlight of the pep rally. These were followed by a live musical performance by senior Daniel Jeon, junior Daniel Kim, and freshman Justin Kim. After all these performances, a one-hour transition period was provided for attendees to head to Pier 40 for the Homecoming football game.
The football game was dedicated to Stuyvesant’s football and baseball coach Matty Hahn, who passed away on July 8, 2021. “He was a very influential coach for the football and baseball team, which is why a lot of alumni came to watch [and] why this Homecoming was really big and a lot of people attended,” senior and football player Yaqin Rahman said.
Due to COVID-19 restrictions and safety protocols, there were limited tickets available for the Pep Rally. With a 100 person participant limit in the gym, the SU sought alternative solutions for attendee participation. “When I saw that we sold out of all of the Eventbrite tickets in under half an hour, we looked into alternatives ASAP and were able to create a Google Form waitlist,” senior and SU Director of Event Planning Hannah Jiang said. “I [also] made sure we could offer a livestream and an additional recorded option for all of the performances and dodgeball games on our social media.”
In previous years, a half-day on the day of the Homecoming Pep Rally allowed Stuy Cheer to teach the football players simple stunts and dances. Due to the lack of the half-day this year, the Football vs. Cheer Dodgeball game was organized to maintain the tradition of involving the football team in the Pep Rally.
With performances, Stuy Cheer prepared over the summer to have a routine ready and perform it during the Pep Rally. “We performed the routine we did at cheer camp this summer, so it was an easy transition into performing at the Pep Rally because it was something we had worked on for a while,” senior and cheer captain Kelly Zeng said in an e-mail interview.
Some performers welcomed the chance to dance in front of a live audience and promote their dance team. “I really decided to participate in the Pep Rally for two main reasons, the first being that it had been nearly two years since I have performed in front of an audience and I missed it a lot,” junior and Stuy Legacy performer Sharon Liu said in an e-mail interview. “The second reason was because I wanted more students to experience the amazing dance culture at Stuy, and hopefully join for future performances.”
Spectators also enjoyed the performances and stunts put on by Stuy Legacy during the pep rally. “The best part was the Stuy [Legacy] performance because it really pumped up the crowd,” sophomore Tara Suri said. “They had popular songs [from artists] like Olivia Rodrigo, edamame, and somebody did a backflip, [which] was really cool.”
The dodgeball games between grades were also a memorable aspect among students. “We beat the freshmen but lost to the juniors,” sophomore and dodgeball player DeAngelo Poon said in an e-mail interview. “It was pretty fun even though I don't know how to aim properly. I think the event was a success other than the fact that there was plenty of cheating, especially the juniors.”
Some chose to attend the event for the social aspect of seeing friends and classmates. “The pep rally was special because I saw so many people there, like my friends and [...] a lot of the upper and lower grades at the pep rally,” junior Andrey Sokolov said. “It was cool to see we were finally coming back to this sense of community.”
However, due to the large number of people attending the event, others found it difficult to navigate around the gym area. “At first, when we came into [the stadium], we didn’t really know what to do because [...] it was hard to navigate,” Sokolov said. “I saw that the cheerleaders were not able to actually cheerlead [...] because everybody sat on one side of the allotted space, which is the part where the cheerleaders need to cheer.”
Others wished the area dedicated for the pep rally in the gymnasium had been larger to account for more people. “There could have been more seats because everyone was jammed and packed into the bleachers. So when there were [performances], it was really tight and there could have been more space for everybody to move,” Suri said.
Nonetheless, many students still believe that this year’s Homecoming Pep Rally was memorable and holds an important role in their Stuyvesant experience. “As [the football team’s] manager and someone who has been lucky enough to watch the team grow and learn to overcome various life-changing injuries, the win for them meant so much more than a score, and Homecoming overall was an incredible experience for me that I wish I could relive and hold on to forever,” Jiang said.
Many students share this sentiment and value the event as an important transition back to normalcy. “This [was] my first and last Homecoming [because] I’m a senior and this is definitely something that I’ll remember for the rest of my life. Especially because this was dedicated to a long-time coach who passed away and in history, this is the Homecoming right after the pandemic,” Rahman said.
Assistant Principal of Security, Health, and Physical Education Brian Moran recognizes the Pep Rally was a chance to bolster school spirit, especially after the transition back into in-person school. “Events like the Pep Rally help to build a sense of community and this is something I think we all missed during the pandemic. I look forward to seeing more events in the future,” he said.