This year, the Winter Homecoming King and Queen of Cottage Grove High School (CGHS) were Logun West and Ashley Pippit from the Lifeskills department, a class of students with severe to moderate special needs and individualized curriculums. They were both able to mingle with and be recognized by their peers and enjoy the music.
Jason Crain, head teacher of the Lifeskills department, said, “Being on stage in front of their peers allows the king and queen to gain confidence as well as meeting fellow high schools' students and staff.”
In the past, the high school had numerous traditions for the time they called Winter Homecoming, such as parades and ceremonies for the basketball teams, but few of these have endured over time. For the past seven years, the Lifeskills department staff have selected two students from their class to be honored by their local community at the Winter Formal dance as king and queen. This year is no different and as usual, the dance made quite the impression on both of them.
Lifeskills Instructional Assistant Jan Haffly was excited to see West and Pippit be honored as king and queen. “Logun and Ashley had never done it and they’re such hard workers, they’re really good kids. So it was very easy to pick them this year.”
Thanks to the kindness of their teachers, Pippitt and West were able to experience the thrill of being on stage in front of an audience of people their age to encourage them. They both work on a daily basis to keep the campus clean and running smoothly for all of the other students and are mostly isolated from their peers outside their department while classes are in session.
“The students at CGHS have been so positive and supportive,” Crain said. This event is a fantastic opportunity for them to see how brightly the high school shines.
“I think that it’s really great when they crown them,” Haffly said. “The whole crowd goes nuts and claps and yells.”
According to CGHS teachers, West and Pippitt can at times be quite shy, yet up in front of their school, they both appeared to be overflowing with joy and neither of them seemed at all lacking in confidence as they strode up the stage and accepted their crowns. And although they enjoyed being crowned king and queen, West and Pippitt both agreed that their favorite part of the dance was the music (especially the country music for Pippitt). After the crowning ceremony, Pippitt and West danced to every song together and were soon joined by their friends to help add to the fun.
High school counselor Vicky Evans thinks this tradition has the ability to stick around for years to come. “I’ve never heard of any other school that does this, and it’s pretty special that our student body continues this tradition.”