Paul Nicholas Holmes Anton never could have imagined dancing the night away like he did at Southampton High School on Sept. 19.
"We don't have celebrations like this in Spain," said Holmes Anton.
With Usher and Lil Jon's "Yeah" blaring in the background, the sophomore was thrilled to dance at the Southampton High School homecoming dance, held in the school's gymnasium. "I went to my first homecoming parade today and now I'm at my first homecoming dance. I like it," Holmes Anton said.
Born in Madrid, Holmes Anton has been traveling between Spain and Southampton, visiting family every summer since he was 6 months old.
Up until this past September, his visits here were based solely on spending quality time with his family. Then Holmes Anton decided he wanted to do things differently.
"I thought it would be interesting to study in the United States," he said. "In Spain, I go to a bilingual school where I speak Spanish and English fluently. I wanted to see the difference between the way education is taught here in the United States and the way it is taught in Spain."
He will study for one year at Southampton High School and then return to Spain to continue his academic studies.
According to Holmes Anton, things are going smoothly so far at Southampton, and the dance was the perfect opportunity to mingle with newfound friends.
"The first day of school, everything was scary because it was new. But I made a lot of friends. People here are nice."
-- URSULA MOORE
PORT WASHINGTON SCHREIBER
Before Ashley Torres enjoyed an array of homecoming festivities, the Paul D. Schreiber High School student spent part of Sept. 19 socializing with senior citizens from the Port Washington Senior Center.
For more than 20 years, Schreiber has held the senior luncheon, which is coordinated by the Pride in Port committee, during homecoming. On Saturday, students served lunch and interacted with more than 50 senior citizens.
It was Torres' first year volunteering at the event.
"I get along with older people really well and they have lifetime stories they can share," she said. "I try to be around older people as much as I can because I learn a lot from them."
Sophomore Emily Schieber has participated in the event for two years.
"I like that we are doing something within our community and it's cool to hear about the life experiences of the seniors," the 15-year-old said.
Dolores Holliday, director of the Port Washington Senior Center, said that the senior citizens benefit from the luncheon in a great way.
"This gives the seniors a chance to go out and they get to intermingle with the younger crowd," she said. "Being around young people makes them feel young, too."
Ed Balcourt, a veteran in his 90s, said he was happy to be at the luncheon and around the students.
"I love when we and the children get together because we need all the love and help that we can get," he said.
-- DANIELLE DE SOUZA
With the football field filled with a sea of black and gold, students at the Uniondale High School pep rally Friday came to prove that it is always better to show their school spirit by "bleeding black and gold."
Students came ready to cheer loudly and stomp their feet for junior varsity and varsity teams.
"Today is a hyped-up day. The kids are very excited. They get to cheer for the different varsity teams and the music is playing. They love it," said Uniondale assistant principal Diane Barton.
Former Uniondale High School science teacher Colin Ross always returns to show his support.
"This is my home. I taught here for 14 years. I love to see the football team and the seniors showing their school pride. I have to be here for this and show my support," said Ross, 44.
Homecoming queen Julianne Mercer was elated about being crowned at the pep rally.
"This is the highlight for me. Being at the pep rally is good because it shows pride in your school," said the 17-year-old senior.
-- URSULA MOORE
VALLEY STREAM CENTRAL
The students of Valley Stream Central High School warmed up for Saturday's 2015 homecoming Friday night with a pep rally that took a somewhat sugary approach.
Students are annually asked to work on banners for homecoming day that demonstrate school spirit while following an overall theme. For this year, the motif was "Candy Land"-- which led to a draping of the school gymnasium's upper-level seating with murals that combined visuals of candied snacks and slogans that declared school pride throughout the Friday evening assembly.
Simultaneously, the ground floor also hosted inspiration, as all the school's fall season athletes were introduced by name and brought out before the student body.
Each member of the volleyball, track, tennis, soccer and football teams got an opportunity to wave to the crowd.
The cap to the affair was the announcement of the 2015 homecoming king and queen. The finalists were led to center floor, with all walking out to enthusiastic shouts and clapping. In the end, seniors Mario Birch and Natalia Erazo were the winners. Birch, also a member of the step team, is captain of the varsity boys volleyball team. Erazo plays varsity soccer.
As for Saturday's homecoming event, the varsity football team will be taking the field to play Herricks High School, following a student-led parade.
-- IAN J. STARK