After the successful reintroduction last fall of its homecoming parade down Main Street, Joplin High School on Wednesday opened its doors to the public for a communitywide pep rally to celebrate winter homecoming.
"Since we made such a big deal with fall homecoming because of the parade, it's the least we can do to get a little community involvement" for winter homecoming as well, said Faron Haase, the student body president and president of the student council.
The high school has traditionally hosted a pep rally for winter homecoming, which recognizes winter sports and the homecoming court, during the school day for its students. But the community was invited this year to a pep rally that was moved to the evening in an ongoing effort by Principal Steve Gilbreth to get the high school more involved and connected with the public.
The pep rally included introduction of student-athletes in winter sports and those selected for the homecoming court, as well as performances by the JROTC, choir, band, cheerleading squad, dance team, drum line and winter guard. It also featured prize giveaways and audience-participation games such as musical chairs and a three-legged race.
Haase said he was excited to showcase those Joplin High School groups, and all students, to the public.
"I just appreciate how much the community is willing to support our school, and I think our relationship (with the community) is very amazing and something that we should be very proud of," he said.
On a cold night in which rain turned to snow outside, students, parents and other community supporters filled the north side of Kaminsky Gymnasium, with many wearing their Joplin Eagles apparel or waving foam fingers.
Becky Jones, whose son is a percussionist in the band, said her high school didn't host anything like Wednesday's pep rally when she was a teenager.
"It's neat," she said. "It's a cool experience for the kids, and I think the parents enjoy seeing their kids have fun."
Heather Surbrugg said she is a "huge Eagles supporter," from her two children in the band to all high school athletics and academics. She was thrilled that the high school decided to open its winter pep rally to parents and other community members.
"It's crucial to have community support so they know all of the wonderful things going on in the schools," said Surbrugg, who also is the principal of Eastmorland Elementary School. "And when the students feel loved and supported, they're going to do better."
Deb Giddens, a parent whose son is a percussionist, hopes the pep rally will become an annual event for the public to be able to attend.
"We need the community involvement," she said.