Heat drives homecoming outside

Thornapple-Kellogg High School held its homecoming dance outside due to high temperatures in the school on Sept. 22, 2017.


MIDDLEVILLE, Mich. (WOOD) — The heat Saturday nearly claimed another victim Saturday, Thornapple-Kellogg High School’s homecoming dance.

Some creative thinking by school officials saved the day and created a unique experience that may become part of local legend.

When planning began for the late September dance a contingency no one anticipated was temperatures in the mid-90s.

And with hundreds of kids hitting the dancefloor of a crowded gymnasium without air conditioning, a hot time threatened to get way too hot.

The theme this year was Hollywood, with kids walking down a makeshift red carpet and tables decorated with little Oscars.

The balloons were filled, the hallways decked out and everyone was planning on a night to remember.

“Like we got our hair done, our nails done, our dresses on, make-up, so we spend a lot of time,” said junior Grace Hauschild.

But on Saturday, the gym where the dance was being held was described by one mom as feeling like the inside of a clothes dryer.

“When we checked the temperature here earlier today, the heat index was at 99 degrees,” said Tony Peterson, principal Thornapple-Kellogg High School.

That 99 degrees was for an empty gym.

“Once we get 800 students into the gym that temperature’s gonna rise really high,” Peterson said.

It was just too dangerous to have in the gym and the unthinkable had to be considered no homecoming 2017.

“For us, we don’t wanna cancel it , you know they put a lot of work into it, not to mention the dresses and the time the gals put into that and the dinner plans and all of that,” Peterson said.

That was when they decided to move the dance to the football field.

“At least outside we have a breeze, it’s gonna cool off this evening,” Peterson said. “It’s something unique, we’ve never had it on the football field before and I know the kids will probably get a kick out of that and have a good time too.”

Students seemed to agree with the decision, for the most part.

“If it were to be inside it would have been miserable, we would have been really hot and either way we’ll have fun,” said junior Kara Burbridge.

“They get a story to tell to their kids when they’re in high school, we had our homecoming dance on the football field,” Peterson said.

For the most part, students were OK with the decision.

Students said having the dance outside was fun and maybe would be the start of a new tradition.

But it did have it downside for the students, but probably not for parents and chaperones.

Some said having it inside is better because: “it’s dark. The music’s louder, too. It’s in a smaller space.”

If you have to ask why louder, darker and smaller is better, you need to accept you’ve gotten old.

But while this was a move born out of necessity, it created a pretty romantic night under the stars that this group of kids will remember forever.