Homecoming haunts the halls


Haley Grooms

Senior Nick Talerico after being recognized during the fall sports assembly on Competition Day.

Haley Grooms and Parker Hopkins

Students spend hours at night perfecting the perfect outfits for one specific week out of the year. Creating the unique competition day shirt, spirit day outfits, and homecoming attire are all distinct memories that one can experience during homecoming week at Utica. Not only is homecoming week for the students, but it is also for alumni to return back to their past for celebrating a night about school spirit.

Every year during the week leading up to Homecoming, Student Council hosts Competition Day – a three-hour long assembly to pump students up for the week.

Before the games begin, the seniors storm the halls dressed in white to intimidate the other students, and to follow a famous tradition.

“I had fun running the halls with my friends,” senior Sarah Palmieri said. “I’ve been looking forward to it since my sophomore year.”

Junior Keagan Mahar prepares to toss an egg to his partner during the Egg Toss game on Competition Day.Haley Grooms

Students either make or buy t-shirts that correspond to their grade level. Sophomores wore red, juniors wore blue, and seniors wore white. It is not a written rule to wear a class color, but it is highly recommended by many returning students to do so.

A number of new games were introduced this year, such as the Pizza Box Race and the Human Snake.

“The games were fun and different,” senior Danielle Monarch said, “but I liked the old games for tradition.”

Although Student Council sponsored the event, the cheerleading team put the games together, helped with cleaning up, and gave directions on how to play each game.

At the end of the assembly after the scores were counted, it was announced that the seniors took first place, juniors took second and sophomores came in third.


Different clubs and sports teams march in a parade snaking through downtown Utica to the football field. Tailgates and small get-togethers occurred before the big game against Lakeview High School.

The Varsity football team lines up for the national anthem before the big game.

“I really enjoyed the really big crowd and the feeling of having all of the past members of the marching band watching me,” senior drum major Gina Sapiano said. “Since it’s my senior year it definitely felt more special because it was my last homecoming. It had a different vibe because it was my last time so I wanted to do a good job while conducting.”


Senior Gabe Olchefsky breaks multiple tackles to charge into the end zone for a touchdown.

Just after halftime, there was a strike of lightning West of Swineheart, so the stadium was cleared and 30 minutes were added to the clock. After the break, heavy rains and strong winds persisted for the rest of the game.

The game ended with a loss of 10-13. Although upset with the loss of his senior homecoming as quarterback, Zack Keen had a win with homecoming king, and his girlfriend Francesca Rea won homecoming queen.

“I did not expect to win at all,” Keen said. “In that moment I was still really down about losing the game.”


The overlying theme for the entire week was a haunted Victorian mansion, but the homecoming dance is where the theme was truly displayed.

Homecoming Queen Francesca Rea and King Zack Keen stand in the pouring rain after the football game to celebrate their crowning. Haley Grooms

There was vintage furniture, string lights hung above the dance floor, chandeliers, and fabric hanging across the ceiling to transform the gymnasium.

“Last year we proposed it to the large council and it was sort of a choice that this year we started to have doubts about,” Student Council president Ryan John said. “We wanted to do our best to give the student body what we could and what they deserved.”

Student Council prepared everything from the haunted hallway to the decorations hanging in the gym. It took multiple days for the Student Council to complete the look they were aiming for.

Seniors, juniors and sophomores alike started Conga lines during the Homecoming Dance.

“This year we want it to feel authentic with a Haunted Mansion theme, so we went on Facebook Marketplace and there was a ton of old furniture that was free,” John said. “We just knew that we wanted this atmosphere that was aged and decrepit, but still elegant. It was really fun to be creative with the theme.”


With Utica’s homecoming being one of the first, Student Council did not have much time to prepare everything. They were pressured for time since the beginning of the school year to complete their high hopes.

“The hardest part [about putting the dance together] was the amount of time we had. We worked every day until homecoming,” senior Aidan Huyghe said. “It was a lot of work, but we pulled it off in the end.”


After the homecoming festivities came to an end, many students reminisce on the positive memories they have made and the uniqueness of their experiences.

“Utica’s homecoming is special. It’s not just about the game or competition day,” Sapiano said, “It’s about the memories and friendships that were created.”