Article By: ANNA GILGOFF Special to The Press
School spirit went viral among the sold-out crowd at Tiger Stadium Sept. 22 as Morgan Moss and Willem Birgel were crowned queen and king at this year’s Homecoming celebration.
“Of course I was so surprised when I found out I was [one of those selected to the court] but now that it’s all settled in I feel honored to be part of something older than myself,” Moss said.
“I wasn’t expecting getting on until someone else told me they voted for me,” said Birgel, expressing his surprise. “I really appreciate all of the nice things people have said to me after I won.”
In addition to Moss, ladies on the court also included Connie Dazzo, Shaelin de Wit, Maya Hambrick, Hallie Harrington, Stephanie Majewski, Jordan Nielsen, Katelyn Smith and Victoria Walker.
Their counterparts included Birgel, Jackson Bernhard, Andrew Cornell, Phil Dangello, Benjamin Fry, Brian Garbacik, Kenny Gawelko, Andrew Goodolf and Aaron Green.
As with Moss, these seniors felt it was a great honor to be voted on to the court.
“It’s a senior celebration of our four years of high school and it’s an honor,” Garbacik said,
“I am honored to be named to the court because it means that my peers voted for me,” Gawelko said. “It is amazing to know they think of me with high regard.”
Dazzo expressed similar feelings.
“I feel honored to be named to the court, showing me that anything is possible,” she said, grateful for the opportunity. “I’d like to thank everyone for supporting me unconditionally.”
“I feel excited and surprised at the same time,” Bernhard said. “For the last three years, I’ve seen other seniors looked up on the court. It’s surreal to now be in their shoes.”
The court was selected three weeks prior to homecoming.
“Every member of the class got to vote for eight girls and eight boys but when we had a tie for the girls, we decided to keep nine for both,” said Patty Mengel, co-adviser of the Class of 2018,
“Northwestern students have the knack of selecting students who represent all aspects of our school,” said co-adviser Beth Johnson.
“Each of the students on the court represents a variety of different talents, skills and qualities.”
De Wit could not help but agree.
“The court is lovely this year,” she said. “Every person is deserving of the crown in some way, shape or form.”
The senior class voted on line and Excel was used to tally the votes.
“I tried to pick people who are nice to everyone, people who are always nice and smiling,” Green said. “I think that’s what people based their voting on.”
One of the high points for nearly all the court members was sharing the news with family and friends.
“Everyone was so excited for me,” Hambrick said. “My grandparents were so happy and my whole family was planning on coming to the game.”
“Both my family and friends congratulated me and they were excited for me,” Harrington said. “I am honored my classmates would consider me for the court and am excited to be a part of it.”
“They were proud of me and excited that I could be a part of it,” Nielsen said. “It is an event that brings the whole school together.”
“My friends and family are so very happy for me,” Moss said. “My sister smiled so big when she found out I was named to the court.”
“Since my mother works at the school she heard it on the announcement at the same time as me,” Majewski said. “I texted my sister in college and my mom texted my dad. All of them were very happy for me.”
“My friends and family were proud of me,” Smith said. “My sisters Haley and Abbie were also on the court. I’m excited because it’s a fun event and I’m grateful to be a part of it.”
De Wit’s mother was on her court at Northern Lehigh. She said her mother was “ecstatic” when she heard the news.
“She’s always happy for me but [this time] she had to of course bring out her pictures, and was so excited to say she was on the court, too.”
“They all got a kick out of it, especially my dad,” said Cornell. “I think it’s a good time for friends and family to have fun during high school.”
The class advisers couldn’t be more pleased with the court.
“Our students are smart, funny, kindhearted, attractive, and energetic. Our students put all those amazing qualities together and each prove to be exceptional,” said Johnson. “For a small school, Northwestern has it all.”
That sentiment is not lost on the members of the court. “I always say I love the people that I’ve grown up with,” said de Wit. “Being able to see everyone is like a blessing. The teachers and the people I’ve grown up with play a huge role in making me who I am.”
It’s all about community for Johnson as well.
She couldn’t help but acknowledge community support for including Weis Market, Action Party Rentals, and American Drycleaners and individual folks like Steph Dunbar, Justin Solt, and Buddy Balik and numerous others.
In the lives of high school seniors, homecoming is a tradition that’s wrapped in camaraderie and good times.
“Homecoming is everything from the football game to dancing with friends,” said Goodolf. “It is a very good time.”
“In my opinion homecoming is the time to appreciate our school’s pride to make life full with possibility,” said Dazzo.
“Homecoming is a special and very exciting time of the school year,” Hambrick said. “Students look forward to the football game, king and queen crowning and the dance.”
“It’s a celebration where members of Northwestern alumna and academic community act together to share a combined love for our school,” Fry added.
And then there’s the game.
“Homecoming means a lot to me in football because many football alumni come to this game and I looked up to them as a kid,” Dangello said. “The crowd for this game is something different.”
“It is one of the most exciting games of the season especially for cheerleaders,” Walker said. “It means our boys play hard, peers cheer loud and the community comes together to cheer for Northwestern.”
“This is an opportunity for us to come together at a school that made such an impact on our lives,” Bernhard said.
“It could basically be considered our home.”