Grovetown High School's first-ever homecoming on Friday meant more to the students than the coronation of a queen.
Some believe the crowning event during halftime of the school's final game of the season, along with the week-long series of events leading up to Friday, created a sense of unity for the students -- an amalgamation of teens formerly attending Harlem, Greenbrier or Evans high schools.
"I have never seen so much participation for dress-up days, so many people so excited for a homecoming," said principal Penny Jackson, who previously worked as assistant principal at Greenbrier High and Aquinas.
"This is the first week we felt unified," Jackson said of the school, which opened in August. "There was no talk of how things used to be done at another school. There was a sense of 'this is how we do it at Grovetown High School.'"
The sense of unity and the significance of the moment were not lost on Katelin Beauford, Grovetown High's homecoming queen.
"This is a chance to start some new traditions and I want to do it the right way," the 17-year-old senior said as she shivered in the chilly November air. "I want to be a role model for others to look to, to see how we're going to do things at this school."
Filling out the homecoming court were first runner-up Kiara Dowdell, second runner-up Chade Martin, Jenna Daines, Angel Jenkins, Maryann McGee, Bianca Stewart, Adoria Terrell, Mimi Tran, Rycquel Williams and Gabriel Warner.
"It means a lot," Katelin said. "I am so proud to represent this school."
In addition to now being homecoming queen, Katelin also is on student council and belongs to the National Honor Society. She plans to attend college and major in nursing.
Like Katelin, Kiara also wants to study nursing. She is a member of the school's varsity basketball and track teams. She is also a member of the National Honor Society, Beta Club and Honors Physics Club.
Chade is captain of the school's volleyball team. She likely will earn a scholarship to play volleyball on the college level and wants to major in psychiatry. She also plays basketball and soccer.
A homecoming event that set Grovetown High apart from many other schools was the naming of a king during a Friday morning pep rally.
Marshall Frank, 17, was named the school's first homecoming king.
"Not a lot of other schools do that, so (crowning a homecoming king) does make it kind of special for us," Marshall said. "And being the first one just makes it even more special."
A baseball player, Marshall hopes to attend Georgia College and State University next fall to study criminal justice.
Other students nominated for homecoming king included Antonio Beavers, Marvon Danzie, Benjamin Glover, Seth Hill, Tyler Kelly, Shawn McCaffrey, Dominque Mingo, Davide Raisner and Bradely Snellings.
Perhaps making the homecoming evening extra special was the Warriors winning a 34-33 nailbiter over Mount Paran Christian to give Grovetown High a winning record in its inaugural season.
"Homecoming brought the school together like nothing else before," Jackson said. "We've all really started to pull together as a school and a community.
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