Tiger Nation celebrates homecoming

The community's youngest cheerleaders help kick off homecoming weekend. [photo by Krissy Gallagher]

The Heights community came together in spectacular fashion as Tiger Nation celebrated Homecoming 2018 on Oct. 12 and 13. After spirit days at many of the district’s schools and an afternoon pep rally at the high school, more than 27 groups—representing sports teams, extracurricular clubs and every one of the district's seven elementary schools—marched in the Homecoming Parade.

Making its way through the heart of the Cedar Lee Business District for the second year, the parade comprised more than 600 participants and drew countless spectators.

With the speedy cross-country team racing the route, and the loud and lively Heights High marching band keeping the beat, the parade began at Fairfax Elementary School and headed north on Lee Road. Parents, alumni and community members gathered at various Cedar Lee businesses, including The Wine Spot, where the Heights Schools Foundation hosted an alumni watch party as part of the Class of 1988’s 30th reunion. The grassy field at Meadowbrook Boulevard and Lee Road transformed into a district-sponsored Rock the Block party featuring a DJ, snacks and giant board games such as Connect Four and Jenga.

Among the parade participants were fall and winter sports teams; extracurricular clubs, including Student Council, SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), AFS foreign exchange students and Heights Middle School's Environmental Club; community groups including Reaching Heights, Noble Neighbors and the CH-UH Board of Education; and PTAs, school leaders, parents and elementary school students.

Members of the high school Vocal Music Department serenaded the crowd with previews of songs from the upcoming production of “Mary Poppins.” The talented and tiny youth cheerleaders wowed with their precision and enthusiasm. Canterbury Elementary School families recited an original chant that proclaimed “Public is the school for us!” And Gearity Professional Development School’s tiger-decorated pickup truck featured physical education teacher Fiona Connor firing up her dancing students with the help of a tiger costume and a megaphone.

At the end of the procession, 2017’s Best of Parade winner, the district’s Transportation Department, turned the corner wearing matching T-shirts and singing “We Are the Champions.” They didn't take a break from singing, dancing, hula hooping and jump roping their way down Lee Road, followed by a honking bus complete with tiger ears and tail.

“I wanted to try to pick a new winner this year,” said parade judge and Superintendent Talisa Dixon. “But I just can’t! They are simply the best.” She proudly waved a copy of the song the bus drivers had written and performed along the route, which included lines like, ”You trust us with your children,” and “We try to never disappoint you because we love you and adore you.” The feeling along Lee Road was definitely mutual.

The weekend’s other homecoming activities included a victorious 34-0 football game against Warrensville Heights, alumni gatherings at various Lee Road establishments Friday night, a community open house with high school tours on Saturday, and the homecoming dance on Saturday night.

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher

Krissy Dietrich Gallagher, a longtime resident of Cleveland Heights, is a former district teacher and a freelance journalist under contract with the CH-UH City School District. A longer version of this story appeared at www.chuh.org.

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Volume 11, Issue 11, Posted 12:14 PM, 10.16.2018