Parents providing Helena students with ‘faux homecoming’ event

Published 6:29 pm Tuesday, September 21, 2021

By MICHELLE LOVE | Staff Writer

HELENA – On Sept. 9, Helena parents received an email from Helena High School Principal April Brand explaining there would be no 2021 homecoming dance.

“Due to the ongoing health situation, we are postponing all dances,” the email read. “I truly understand, and share, your disappointment. I assure you that when the health situation has improved, we will do all we can to host a dance.”

Not wanting students to be disappointed, a group of parents have decided to throw a homecoming shindig of their own on Oct. 2 called “Helena FOCO 2021.”

“The word homecoming has somehow over the years just become ‘HOCO,’ said Helena mother, Melanie Flynn, one of the organizers of the event. “It’s just a shorter version that’s easier to type out and put a hashtag with, which is what teens do, right? So, since they couldn’t have a real homecoming at the school this year, we’re throwing them a ‘faux homecoming,’ otherwise known as a FOCO.”

The event will be held for Helena students in grades 9-12, and will be held at the Helena Sports Complex from 7-10 p.m.

Helena mother and event organizer Leigh Hulsey said the idea for the event came from parents who wanted their children to be able to participate in normal activities in a not so normal time. “I think it’s pretty safe to say that the last year and a half has been challenging in a lot of ways,” Hulsey said. “It is disappointing seeing our kids miss out on certain traditions where they create fun, lasting memories.”

“I think any parent at this point is saddened for what all our kids have missed out on,” said Flynn. “We all know how fast these four years go by, and these are memories they can never get back. I know teachers and staff at the high school are so anxious to return to normal activities as well, but unfortunately their hands are tied.”

Once the announcement there would be no homecoming was made, Hulsey said parents went right to work.

“Several parents in the community reached out and said they would be more than willing to help make this a reality, and we got right to planning,” she said. “It has been a lot of fun planning, and we are very excited to be able to provide this for our kids.”

Hulsey wanted to emphasize the high school had no hand in planning the event, and it is completely because of the efforts of the parents that the dance is taking place.

The event will have an indoor and outdoor space for the kids to dance and hang out while entertainer, DJ Breezy, provides the music. Students will have the opportunity to take photos at offered photo booths, one of which will provide a printed momento for students to take home that night. There will be food available for purchase from Frios, Cookie with a Twist and Gimme Some Sugar.

“I think [the kids] are just excited to have an opportunity to get dressed up and go have a great time with their friends,” said Hulsey. “I know a lot of us have gotten several messages from parents about how excited their kids are, and that is really what it’s all about, the kids.”

“We are still living through a pandemic, and we do have to keep everyone’s safety in mind,” said Flynn. “This is where our city never fails, and parents rally together and put a plan in action. We truly are blessed to live in this great little town.”

Flynn agreed that the ultimate goal of the FOCO is to allow the kids to have fun.

“We hope the kids know how much they are loved, and we just want this to be their time,” she said. “It makes any parent happy to see their child happy, and that’s all we’re hoping for that evening.”