As the Marietta Blue Devils prepare to host the North Paulding Wolfpack on the gridiron Friday night, their homecoming week is taking on a new look in the face of the coronavirus pandemic.
A football game will still be played, with kickoff at Northcutt Stadium scheduled for 7:30 p.m. A homecoming queen will be crowned, selected from the homecoming court students voted for.
However, the pandemic is forcing Marietta to punt on most homecoming festivities and celebrations:
♦ There will be no traditional homecoming parade lined with Marietta community members.
♦ No homecoming dance for the student body is scheduled. All Marietta High students are still learning remotely and won’t return to in-person classrooms until Nov. 9.
♦ No pep rally is planned to hype up the Blue Devils football team.
Despite the changes, Marietta Principal Keith Ball is thankful that the school will still be able to celebrate in some ways.
“We are grateful that we have a game and that we will be crowning a queen,” Ball said. “This annual event reminds us to never take for granted this short, precious time in our lives.”
The school took traditional Homecoming Court pictures last weekend, and family members will be permitted on the field with the members of the court at halftime. The school named 16 girls to the court — 10 seniors, two juniors, two sophomores and two freshmen.
Seniors on the court include Zoe Adams, Rebekah Bradbury, Raquel Figueroa, Savannah Hernandez, Faith Kumi, Annabel Le, Yasmine Leonard, Shianna Marshall, Piper Rausch and Viviana Rodriguez. Juniors include Lillie Murrell and Quadriyah Williams. Sophomores include Hawanatu Ruffai and Parie Desai. Freshmen include Tiah Carthers and Valeria Rodriguez.
“The students that were selected as our homecoming court are exceptional young women,” Ball said.
Kibbie DeJarnett, the faculty adviser for the Marietta High School Student Council, typically helps students plan homecoming events such as the parade, pep rally and homecoming court. She has worked in this role since 2005, and she said this year’s planning was very different than past celebrations. Still, she said the student council remains engaged on campus.
“Our student council has continued to remain active and take a vital interest in all that our MHS population is experiencing while being students in their homes,” DeJarnett said. “Class T-shirts are being designed, class dues and budgets are being discussed, and we are even planning virtual pep rallies.”
Richard Morgan, Marietta’s head football coach, said he understands why some events had to be called off this year.
“It’s like anything else right now. The health and safety of the kids and staff is paramount,” Morgan said. “That’s got to be the No. 1 thing. I’m just happy we get to play a football game. We’re thankful for that, and I think there’s still going to be some of the homecoming activities that we’ve had in the past. It may look a little different, but I think there will still be enough excitement and things around Marietta to still make it an exciting homecoming event.”
The Blue Devils have been on the road since opening their season at Northcutt Stadium against Wheeler High School on Sept. 5.
“We’ve been on the road for some really long road trips for about a month and a half straight, so we’re really excited to get back and play at home and play at Northcutt,” Morgan said. “The fact that the first game back is homecoming, I think that adds to the excitement.”
And if the community does its part to control the spread of the virus, Morgan hopes homecoming week can take its traditional form in 2021.
“Hopefully, if we handle it well, then by next year maybe things will be back to what we’re all accustomed to.”