High School: A Starting Point For Change


What type of person comes to mind when you hear the phrase “Homecoming Queen”?

Do you picture a male, female or someone who identifies as a different gender?

What is the color of their skin?

Do you share any similarities with this person?

It is too easy to picture the stereotypical Homecoming Queen. It’s almost scary. The most popular and most beautiful and most charming and most feminine? And most white? Largely due to the interconnected mass media culture of today’s modern world, children get bombarded with unrealistic expectations, and women are held to unrealistic standards beginning at a disturbingly young age. Many teenagers already have a good idea of what a Homecoming Queen should be like before even entering high school. This mainstream notion of the “perfect” Homecoming Queen is superficial and objectively shallow to say the least. Luckily for us Chelsea students, we don’t have to support this unhealthy and degrading social construct any longer.  

By now, most of the community has heard about Student Council’s decision to adopt the Chelsea Excellence Award in place of electing a traditional Homecoming Queen.

This decision has been received by CHS and the Chelsea community with as much criticism as appreciation. The reaction following the announcement of this “radical” adjustment, however, has not been limited to Chelsea. This decision has likely prompted other high schools to reconsider the long-established Homecoming tradition and the process of getting nominated for Homecoming Queen. This adjustment also poses critical questions to the public: should such a major tradition be abandoned? How do female students feel about primarily being judged by looks and popularity? Can the election process promote bullying or create an unhealthy dynamic between students? And is electing a Homecoming Queen inclusive to everyone, no matter sexual orientation or gender identity? Questions like these have been echoed by students, parents, staff, local news channels, and even the New York Times.

The switch from electing a Homecoming Queen to voting for the Chelsea Excellence Award not only marks a shift in the tradition of Homecoming, but also displays the ability of high school students to create real change in their community. The examination of Chelsea’s past Homecoming tradition was driven by dedicated Student Council members who responded to the requests of the student body. Like the #WhyYouMatter campaign which began in 2017, passionate students fought again for what CHS stands for. Along with students, it is also important to recognize the administration and staff at CHS who provide a supportive avenue for revision and growth in which young adults can thrive.

In this respect, Chelsea High school is unique, as there are very few public high schools who have been able to build such an influential and widespread mechanism of change. Of course, none of this change would be possible without the students of Chelsea who had the courage to place tradition itself under the microscope and dared to ask the hard questions: What do our traditions say about who we are?” and “What do our traditions say about who we want to be?” This process displays the power high school students can harness and the ability of young adults to alter entire social patterns, uproot deeply ingrained tradition and reshape the cultural values of our society.

We embody change.