Unpacking the 2022 Homecoming Pep Assembly


West Anchorage High School’s 2022-2023 Homecoming Court (Photo Credit: Megan Henry).

Zoe Springsteen, Reporter

The excitement was palpable on Thursday, September 8 as the West High Eagles got to enjoy their first all-out homecoming assembly since 2019. 

Senior Class President Serah Vaafuti and Senior Spirit Commissioner Amaya Hudson were the MC’s for the assembly, keeping spirits high and the activities on schedule. Vaafuti and Hudson were elected to their senior student government roles their junior school year, 2021-2022. When school began this fall, their responsibilities started immediately.

“Literally, the first week of school we started planning for homecoming week,” Vaafuti explained of her presidential duties. Her premier event as senior class president: “The homecoming assembly.”

On September 8, collecting in the gym, with games, performances, and tradition, students and teachers of all ages connected over something they have in common: being part of West Anchorage High School.

Vaafuti kicked off the assembly with humor, commenting on an alleged “beef” between sophomores and juniors. Vaafuti and Hudson toured the respective class sections with mugs in tow to represent the “tea”—but all in good fun.

“There really wasn’t any beef,” Vaafuti says of the skit. 

Bringing the Cheer: West High’s Varsity and Open Squads

West High’s Cheer team had the crowd roaring with their routines for the pep assembly. It was “some of the hardest we’ve ever done,” says senior Kathryn McCrudden, a flyer for West’s Varsity Cheer Squad.

The team began preparing for the assembly before school began, attending two-hour practices four times a week since the end of July to prepare for the big day. 

Despite their impressive stunts this year, cheer isn’t all about the grind. 

“We practice half times for games, assemblies, cheers… it’s really fun,” McCrudden says. West’s cheerleaders performed stunts like “kick-fulls, rewinds, and two front flips with halves and extensions,” McCrudden says.

Royalty Enters in… A Toy Car?

The homecoming royalty entrances did not disappoint this year, with Lorenzo Sailele leading the impressive arrivals by hoisting Kylie Carig onto his shoulder and walking through the JROTC saber arch.

Other notable entrances included Ari Kaufman and Daphne Sagan’s toy-car shopping cart, Andres Hernandez and Lucy Hale’s confetti-cannon brawl, and Ben Goltz and Iris Montesano’s skateboard/surfer duo. Goltz and Montesano took the floor and went on to be handed flutes of sparkling apple cider for their feature photo.

Owen Umatum and Sofia Villasenor approached their feature photo playfully. The gym was collectively delighted as the two traded their respective sports gear: a football helmet and pom-poms.

Spirited occasions like the homecoming assembly uphold traditions and are a chance to “welcome freshmen into the community,” Goltz says. “It brings a little bit of light into the season!”

Goltz showed his spirit by rolling across the gym floor as a human skateboard, to the amusement of onlookers.

The Homecoming court is a way for students to vote for seniors who exemplify West spirit, academically and athletically. This year’s court included students with an array of talents: Goltz and Montesano are on their way to completing their IB Diplomas; Antonia Yu is a reigning tennis champion and Ari Kaufman has broken multiple school records on the swim team. In order to be elected to Homecoming court, students must have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 and a varsity letter in a sport or activity.

Behind The Mascot Head: How Does One Become The West High Eagle?

Luke Pepper, a senior at West, volunteered himself to be one of West High’s mascots for this year’s homecoming assembly. As Pepper walked the halls of West, clad in the eagle suit prior to the assembly, he offered high-fives and pictures to passersby.

“We need school spirit,” Pepper says of the importance of his role. “I’m going to bring joy.”

And bring joy, he did. Pepper’s efforts to “get people hyped” helped the Class of 23’ seniors win the infamous West High Spirit Stick in a scream-off against the other grades. 

“I want everybody to see that we’re a fun school, with so much spirit,” Vaatufi says. “I’m so excited for what we have planned for the rest of the year,” she said. Students should be excited about the activities that await them for the rest of the school year, but, for now, Vaatufi considers the plans “a surprise.”