Under Pressure: The Unseen Stress of Homecoming

Laina Swatek and Maggie Cipriano

Students at Glenbard West put emphasis on succeeding in everything–like college applications and tests– so adding stress is unwanted. The pressure surrounding huge social events, such as Homecoming, is another weight to be added this fall for many.

Every student has felt the looming presence of the upcoming dance- whether it be helping a friend pick a dress, arranging a picture party group, or hearing general buzz of who asked who.  Although Homecoming may be stressful for some, it is also a surprising highlight of most teens’ high school careers.

Student Council Homecoming Board leaders, Claire Morawski and Kate Wagner, work towards, “Following Glenbard West’s traditions by making and creating opportunities to involve the whole student body,” is how go about making the dance appeal to everyone- including faculty at the school.

Tradition at Glenbard West is a deeply honored and revered at Glenbard West, and the student body enforces it every day when they climb the steep steps up to Circle Drive to attend classes- or when they crowd in the stands at Duchon despite the cold and rain which hits the field.

But many students feel that Homecoming can be more stressful than fun.

Mrs. Mazzone, a social worker at Glenbard West, says, “People really want to have a place, and I think that goes for all of us, in all walks of life- but Homecoming has this special flair.” Mazzone mentions that many students, weighed down by Homecoming-related anxiety, have come to her for social advice.

90% of teens suffer from some sort of anxiety. School-related anxiety cannot easily be charmed away by a cute date and a famously rainy, cold, and spirited football game the morning of a dance. It comes in many forms, like social anxiety, OCD, PTSD, and many other more specific types, with social anxiety being the main type among high school teens.

With academic and social pressures building on the shoulders of every student, for some it is hard to find excitement in getting a date, planning a group, arranging a party and dinner, and figuring if your group has the most glamorous afterparty.

“I don’t like that there’s such a stigma about having to have a date,” admits senior, Caroline Pelaez. As a student who has attended Glenbard West Homecoming before, she says she knows the pressures which both girls and boys feel in preparation for the dance.

Morawski, too, feels this same weight, writing that, “Once my guy friends started making plans for the dance, I felt the pressures of planning AND going to the dance as just a guest,” proving that no matter your role or circumstance regarding Homecoming, stress usually presents itself in some form.

So why do students anticipate this event and many write it in their yearbooks as their ‘best high school experience’?

“I like just being there and having a good time with your friends,” Pelaez shared, “and it’s kind of nice just being surrounded by all your classmates” she admits, expressing that the strange sense of unity at the dance is something unique and amazing to Homecoming.

Mrs. Mazzone, too, feels the same way saying, “I think it’s a great way to celebrate the school year, but there’s always going to be pressure and stress in some type of social situation.” She even passionately offers the advice that, “Ten years from now, you’re not going to remember your date- you’re going to remember that you had a good time. And that’s part of high school is- getting involved and going to dances and being silly. And that’s okay.”

Although the hassle which preambles Homecoming is overwhelming and harsh for many, there is no denying that the dance itself brings a rush of adrenaline and joyous euphoria. With friends surrounding you and in fancy getup dancing to energetic songs, it’s hard not to be happy.

“Teenagers should mostly be focusing on having fun,” says Mrs. Walor, a Glenbard West mother who has felt the pressure of hosting and planning various picture parties. She knows that her daughter, and senior at Glenbard West, Marin Walor, and others feel a lot of obligation due to the dance, but wished they would celebrate the experience as a whole.

Mrs. Koskela, librarian at Glenbard West, reflects back on her own Homecoming compared to now,“The enthusiasm is greater, because you know, it was a long time ago.” The Homecoming experience should not be compared to others in order to reduce the unneeded stressors for students- it should be about the school, the spirit and about the memories.

While the nature of Homecoming itself won’t change, and hasn’t over the years, there are things the student body can do now to change their experience; for example, to make the most of the spirited school functions.

As a whole, students’ priority should lay in experiencing the full potential of the dance, and trying to make memories, instead of worrying over their attire and group.

Mazzone reminds the student body about what we should really be prioritizing, “The best part about Homecoming is finding who you are. And, I think that’s really neat.”