Students of White Pine High School walk into the Nevada Northern Railway train Depot Tuesday night to watch the movie “Hocus Pocus.” (Garrett Estrada photo)

Students of White Pine High School walk into the Nevada Northern Railway train Depot Tuesday night to watch the movie “Hocus Pocus.” (Garrett Estrada photo)

Homecoming is one of those sentimental high school moments that students remember years after they graduate. The dance, the football game, the parade of floats, all of it ties together into an experience that is more than just the sum of its parts. For students at White Pine High School, it is a week of fun activities organized by students, and made for students.

Principal Adam Young said he prefers it that way.

“I’ve always believed that Homecoming should be all about the students,” Young said. “Some believe that it is a community event, but I don’t see it that way. The students are the ones who put in all the hard work to make it happen, So why shouldn’t it be all about them?”

Homecoming week at WPHS kicked off on Monday with the first of several big student-oriented after-school events, a mud tug-of-war contest. Students grouped up into teams, some based on class rank, others based around sports teams or extra-curricular clubs, and tried their might against their peers pulling a large rope through the mud. Though for all the emphasis on the student involvement in the event, it was the group of teachers that prevailed as Monday’s winners.

“Who would have seen that coming, not me,” Young joked.

But the tug-of war contest was just the first in a series of homecoming-related activities planned by the student council. Students gathered at the Nevada Northern Railway train depot on Tuesday to have a movie night watching the Halloween favorite  “Hocus Pocus.” Wednesday provided the popular “Powder Puff” flag football game, with high school junior and senior girls squaring off in a game of football with male cheerleaders. Thursday’s “Macho Man” event pits juniors versus seniors in a boys volleyball match that will be followed by a bonfire just outside of the schools halls.

To Young, the events represent a fun, competitive spirit that is capped off by a communal coming-together sitting around a fire.

“I see it as the students basically compete all week long against each other for bragging rights. Juniors versus seniors, boys versus girls, but at the end of the week, everyone rejoins in a untied school spirit around the bonfire to get pumped up for the football game,” the principal said.

This year’s homecoming game will be played against Calvary Chapel Christian Academy on Friday at the high school’s football field at 7 p.m. The game will be preceded with this year’s parade of homecoming floats on golf carts driven around the track at the field. The week will officially conclude it’s events on Saturday with the Homecoming dance at the train depot at 8 p.m.

But just because the afterschool events will come to an end doesn’t mean the school spirit raising dress up days and other during school hour activities will for the rest of the month according to student body president Jane Murdock.

“This year we really wanted to have Homecoming extend beyond just this week’s activities. Our goal was to create a month–long Homecoming that kept people having fun all month long,” Murdock said.

As the student body president, Murdock said she oversaw a group of 50 students that have been planning this year’s homecoming since the first day of the new school year. After a high turnout for the tug-of-war event, Murdock said that this year’s Homecoming is shaping up to be one of the biggest that she has seen in her four years as a student at WPHS.

“We had a lot of people come out to participate in the tug-of-war or just watch. Even the dress up days around school have had a lot of people get into it, I don’t remember any years where this many students have gotten involved,” Murdock said.

Young agrees. He admits that “not as much learning” goes on during the four day celebration that he might like, but that it is worth it to provide something for the students that will get them re-energized about going back to school.

“It is one of the things that kids get excited about and that they enjoy. They show their spirit by dressing up. The faculty gets excited too. A lot of them will come out to the events and the games. A lot of the events are just really well attended, even by kids that aren’t affiliated with any of the clubs at school just because it’s Homecoming week.”