“Who wants candy?” a gaggle of East Meadow High School sophomores screamed as they paraded down the street atop their “SpongeBob SquarePants”-themed homecoming float.
They were greeted by the waving hands of bystanders — children and adults of the community clad in blue and gold, the school’s colors — clamoring to catch a few packages of sweet treats as they watched the festivities leading up to the big football game.
Homecoming has been a longstanding tradition for East Meadow ever since the school brought the annual celebration back in 1979. For East Meadow High School principal Rich Howard, Class of 1989, it’s an event he participated in first as a quarterback for the school, then later as a school administrator, all the way up to his current role.
“It’s a great event,” Howard said. “The sense of community, how strong the community is — everyone comes together.”
Spirit Week was a busy one for the school, with the addition of several new events aiming to strengthen the student community. On Monday, kids of all grades gathered together in the courtyard for movie night, watching Disney’s “Moana” on, fittingly, the school’s Hawaiian-themed Spirit Day.
“It’s hard to find a movie that works for everyone,” Howard said. “It was nice that it worked out that way.”
On Wednesday, the entire school was invited to participate in East Meadow’s first-ever homecoming dance. For freshmen and sophomores, this was a special treat — getting to dance alongside upperclassmen in a unified event.
“I felt really welcomed by everyone,” freshman Brendan Pedisich, 14, said. “Everyone went all out.”
East Meadow students also felt the “spirit” of giving this week, which happened to coincide with the school’s annual charity event raising money for breast cancer awareness. According to Howard, students raised nearly $4,400 for the Side-Out Foundation throughout the month, with the school’s volleyball team holding a special event during Spirit Week to help raise funds.
Spirit Week ended on Saturday with the school’s big parade and football game against the Long Beach Marines. This year’s theme was “Cartoons,” and there were some clever costumes to match. Senior Michael Halktis could be spotted in a fuzzy Scooby-Doo costume, and later soaking wet after succumbing to the depths of the dunk tank outside of the football field.
“We all worked really hard to put these floats together,” said Pedisich, who dressed as Charlie Brown for the freshman “Peanuts” float.
At the game, the school celebrated new traditions as well as honored those who had passed. At halftime, the school presented a $10,000 check to a scholarship fund created in memory of Matthew DeLuca, a Long Island Wrestling Association champion and East Meadow High School alumnus who died unexpectedly in January at the age of 29.
“DeLuca was a wonderful student and an important part of our community,” Howard said.