Homecoming: Rancho Cotate’s Stoplight Day
By NICOLE ZIMMERMAN / Rohnert Park Correspondent
Monday at Rancho Cotate High School was Stoplight Day, with students encouraged to wear red, green or yellow.
“It’s so people can know who’s taken or not taken,” said Hayley Dougan, a junior who handles publicity for the Associated Student Body.
Red meant you already had a homecoming date. Green signified single. But what about yellow?
“It’s complicated. That’s what yellow stands for,” said Anna Jones, a junior wearing a yellow shirt with the words “Stop looking at me” printed across it.
“I was told we were going together, but we’re still unsure,” she said of her date. “He said he would tell me tomorrow.”
It was all part of Spirit Week, the week leading up to Rancho’s Oct. 13 homecoming dance. Each day, students were encouraged to dress according to a chosen theme – Pirate Day, Beach/Hawaiian Day, Fishing/Snorkel Day and Hippie Day — as a way to unite the student body with a sense of camaraderie.
“It not only brings the school together, but is a fun way to get excited for the dance,” said Hayley. “We want everyone to be able to participate.”
Students who dressed up earned spirit points for their age group. The winning class will get to park their cars or trucks in the quad for a tailgate party complete with music and grilled food.
“The happier and more involved the students are, the better they do academically,” said Jessica Holman, an English teacher and student leadership adviser who dressed in red, yellow and green to represent everyone.
Her daughter, Katelin Holman, wore a red crinoline petticoat with red T-shirt and knee socks. “Hey, I’m taken. Do not come near me,” she said.
One of five senior girls nominated for queen, she gestured toward her homecoming date, Gene Radin, also nominated for king. The royalty winners will be announced at Saturday’s homecoming dance.
Representing the theme “Under the Sea,” big fish were mounted on the gym walls and fabric floated across the ceiling in waves.
“I love homecoming. It’s so much fun,” said Katelin, who attends the dance each year with her friends. They do their hair and nails together at someone’s house. Then they eat sushi or pizza and jump into a limo with their dates.
“We’re single,” announced Stephanie Ortiz and Nancy Martinez, both sophomores. Along with their friend Noemi Amador, a freshman, they broadcasted their “go ahead and ask me” status in green.
“I hope it’s fun,” Noemi said. “It depends on who you’re with, I guess.”
“Personally, I would never ask a guy to any event unless we were really close friends,” said Stephanie. Her friends nodded in agreement.
“I’m too much of a chicken to go ask,” said Nancy.
“It feels like more respect for a guy to ask you, because they actually want to go with you,” Noemi added.
Most juniors and seniors, whom Hayley said also have the most school spirit, leave campus at lunchtime. Of the boys who stayed behind, the majority who participated wore red. They often sat with an arm around girls dressed in the same hue.
Tanner Samples, a junior, was one exception. He said he was wearing green “coincidentally,” not thinking about Spirit Week that morning when he put on his shirt.
Although he has a girlfriend, they weren’t planning to go to homecoming because neither of them can dance.
“We think the school dances are dirty,” he said. “I’m no square, but people are going to be grinding, and it’s not really our style.”
Even if the green shirt confused some people, Tanner stood up when it was time to be counted. He said he wanted his class to be ahead in spirit points.
“That’s who we try to reach out to, people who don’t get into it,” said Hayley.
According to her, there aren’t many big traditions at Rancho Cotate, but they’ve tried Stoplight Day before and everyone liked it. This year the leadership team created posters, made announcements and even put on a fashion show to share ideas for dressing up during the week.
Spirit Week culminates with a pep rally Friday afternoon, with a dance performance by alumni and seniors, as well as a musical performance and games. The coach will introduce the football players — who had only given up three points to opposing teams — to prepare the crowd for the big Friday night game.