Berthoud homecoming viewed through the lens of the past
By Kim Skoric
The sounds, sights and smells of fall have arrived in Colorado. The crisp morning air, the crackle of fallen leaves, and the steam rising from mugs of pumpkin-spiced coffee all act as hallmarks of the season. In Berthoud homecoming week has long been a symbol of all that is fall. In talking with students from the homecomings of the past it has become apparent that while certain differences did exist, the common themes of fun, friendship and community resounded throughout their collective experiences and deserves celebration yet again this year.
According to Tracey Theobald Briggs of the Berthoud Historical Society, the first yearbook was produced in 1930, but it was not until the 1950s a record of homecoming events appeared in yearbooks. For actual recollections of homecomings “back in the day,” Stu Boyd, the newest school board member for the Thompson School District, provided a font of information. Boyd recalled being in elementary school in the “old red brick school (located in Fickel Park), football games were on weekday afternoons.” The entire school was dismissed, and the teachers walked the students over to sit on the grass and watch the games. “I don’t think there were even bleachers,” said Boyd. By the time he was in high school all games, including homecoming, were held at Bill Reed Middle School, which was then Loveland High School. “Since there were no girls sports and no other boys sports in the fall, homecoming was all about football,” claimed Boyd.
Of the week’s events itself he remembers the homecoming floats being “amazing.” With 20 to 30 kids in a graduating class “kids took pride in the floats and the competition was pretty fierce,” remembers Boyd. As a primarily agricultural community at the time, most floats were built in barns on local farms and sometimes took two weeks to complete. The homecoming royalty rode in convertibles much as they do today. However, their route took them down Massachusetts rather than Mountain Avenue. One change from activities today came in the occurrence of the “snake dance.” What’s a snake dance, you ask? According to Boyd, “All the attendees would join hands and form a long human chain and then run through town holding hands, including downtown. It was exhausting, but great fun.”
The homecoming attendant of 1963, Janice (Matthews) Smith, remembered who we played for the football game and the final score of that contest. She was even able to provide the program for that particular game 55 years later. Saving that memorabilia speaks to the importance of the homecoming activities then and now.
By 1975 some things had changed in the community. The numbers in the graduating class had risen to 78. The football games were still played at Bill Reed and a bus would take the team, the cheerleaders, and the band to each and every game. Berthoud resident Liz Kearney said, “I don’t recall ever winning a game in high school, but the stands were still full of Berthoud fans.” She referred to the events of homecoming as “classic small-town fabulousness.” A class of 78 left no room for cliques, “Forming groups of two or three people was no fun,” Kearney said. Her lasting memory came in the “hijinks” of powderpuff football. This homecoming staple got resurrected last year due to efforts from The BHS Maroon Tribune, and students will again be able to participate this year.
Stepping forward in time to the 1980s, the parade still held a prominent place in the homecoming festivities. Former Berthoud graduate and high school social studies teacher, Emily Rogers-Ramos, was a royalty candidate both junior and senior years, but she most remembered one float in particular. “I know we were going up against the Tigers for one homecoming.” The class float had a Tony the Tiger Cornflakes bowl constructed of chicken wire and tissue paper.
Another former staff member and 2002 BHS graduate, Bree Alvine, also spoke fondly of homecoming. As a cheerleader throughout high school, Bree said, “We were in charge of the pep rally, creating a fun-charged community pep rally that really started the week off and rallying the spirit of everyone in school.” Her favorite memory came during her senior homecoming pep rally. They created a routine comprised of 13 cheerleaders and 20 football players. “The guys learned how to stunt and everything for it. It was absolutely amazing.” This was soon after 9/11 and she said homecoming that year “was literally a huge celebration of life and what our town stood for.”
For many the dance created visual memories called to bear simply in saying the word “homecoming.” A graduate of the class of 2012, Kara Godebu, was a member of student council throughout high school. “Stuco handled all of the decorating, start to finish, plus the tear-down after the dance. We had a blast coming in late after the football game to finish decorating. The one year with the under-the-sea theme, we had a massive paper mâché shark hanging from the ceiling, a huge treasure chest, plus a seaweed/jelly-fish-like sitting area − so much work. But for her the work was all worth it. “Students should have something to look forward to and enjoy at school, and I believe homecoming does that,” Godebu said.
While Berthoud has undoubtedly changed a great deal in its more than 75 homecoming celebrations, some things have remained constant. Jason Michaud, a 2005 BHS graduate, shared the sentiment of the many who reached out on the topic. “I feel homecoming is a “timeless” tradition. I wish everyone shared my enthusiasm and passion for BHS. My school pride will forever be part of my identity.” About tradition, Brian Johnson, 2004 BHS graduate said, “The older I get, the more I appreciate the value and purpose of tradition, and it warms my heart thinking that one day my children will be feeling/sharing the same excitement I once had for homecoming.” Homecoming in Berthoud creates a collectively shared experience: uniting the past and present, even as it looks toward the future of our students and our community as a whole.
I would like to thank all the many former students who shared their homecoming experiences with me. Without your help this article would not have been possible.
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