The 18 girls on Alfred M. Barbe High School’s 2018 Homecoming Court met with fifth-grade girls from several elementary schools to talk about body image, self-esteem and anti-bullying advocacy.
The tour was part of a new school tradition, “Homecoming Court for a Cause.” Sponsor Deidra Fitzgerald said she came up with the idea as a way to bring new meaning to the court and have the girls do something more with it.
“They can use wherever they are as a platform for something good,” she said. “We can always change what seems meaningless into meaningful.”
The court of 18 travelled to Dolby, A.A. Nelson and Prien Lake elementary schools and recalled their painful, yet admittedly normal, pre-adolescent insecurities.
Fitzgerald said the students “hit it perfectly” as they described their personal struggles with their weight, teeth, acne, body hair and other social development issues.
“We shattered the stereotype that homecoming court girls are perfect,” she said.
Fitzgerald said the experience also taught an important lesson about how to foster authentic connections with other individuals.
“Being vulnerable and sharing your story brings you closer, and I think adults need that reminder, too,” she said.
Barbe senior Julia Eccles said the experience of opening up to other students on the court created “new and more meaningful friendships.” Eccles shared her personal struggle with losing baby teeth later than most of her peers.
“I hope they realize that things are temporary,” she said. “You come out and you survive.”
Eccles pointed to her ears, which she once feared stuck out too far, but are now adorned with a variety of jewels.
“Embrace what makes you different,” she said.
Aubrey Caldwell, a junior, said young girls should realize their beauty even when they aren’t “dressed up.”
“You’re going to feel more beautiful when you’re not trying to hide who you are,” she said.
While counselors and teachers share similar messages of positivity, Caldwell added “it was probably nice for the girls to hear it from someone else.”
“I hope they realize every single girl goes through similar things,” she said.
Ilham Chloun, a senior, shared her transformation from an elementary student who couldn’t speak English to the leader of the senior section at Barbe football games. “I’m so glad I changed from elementary to middle and now to high school,” she said. “Who would’ve thought 11 years ago that I would be the loudest one around and on homecoming court? You have to make a voice for yourself.”
Scotti Moffett, a senior, said the event has left a permanent impression on her high school experience.
“I won’t just think, ‘Oh, I was on the homecoming court,’ but instead I’ll think, ‘I made a difference.’ I wish someone would’ve come (and) talked to me — high schoolers, not adults. And now I hope someone goes to talk to my daughter one day in the future.”