Students take part in the 2022 powder toss homecoming tradition. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Degan)
Students take part in the 2022 powder toss homecoming tradition. (Photo courtesy of Alyssa Degan)

A tradition too far?

October 18, 2022

Traditions are everywhere! They are a part of our culture, families and school life. One of my personal favorite examples of a tradition in a school setting is at the University of Wisconsin in Madison.

During their football games, at the end of the third quarter, the song “Jump Around” begins to play. Camp Randall Stadium comes alive as everyone in the stadium jumps to the music; even the visitors get involved, and the stadium shakes.

But traditions are not just present in college athletics. We have quite a few traditions here at Prospect.

Unlike in college, high school traditions aren’t played on TV for millions at home to watch. A lot of them are passed down class by class, which is how those traditions are remembered as time goes on.

Every so often, people stop remembering or end these traditions, and they get thrown into the Prospect archives. Just waiting for someone to learn about them and then decide to write a newspaper article about them *wink wink*.

From the homecoming parade, to the original powder toss, and even our fight song, there are many traditions that Prospect has slowly moved away from or changed because of different reasons. But what’s really disappointing is how there has been very little effort within Prospect to embrace and maintain some of these traditions.

The loss of these traditions hurts the culture of Prospect more than anything because it takes away what it means to be a Knight.

Since the first week of freshman year I’ve been told that I am a KNIGHT. This is something that almost all of my family was told when they walked through these halls before me. One of the biggest reasons that my parents chose to live in Mount Prospect was so I would eventually go to Prospect for high school because of the strong academics and my mom’s fond memories of her time here.

One of the biggest things she remembers from her time at Prospect was everything that would happen during Homecoming week. Where she would march in the homecoming parade through Downtown Mount Prospect. 

Another one was when they would bring an old car to the front of Prospect and let students smash it with sledgehammers. But one of her favorite traditions during that week was when each club and sport would get a window in front of Prospect and would paint them for a competition. 

After my mom, my sister came to Prospect before me and would talk about some of the activities that I could look forward to once I finally came here. From participating in traditions like the powder toss or storming the football field after wins that have been around during her time.

But when it was my time to come to Prospect, a lot of these traditions that once seemed so grand were simply changed or ended. Freshman year still had a lot of activities, but it felt like things were missing from that experience.

When these traditions end, we end up losing something that is bigger than the original tradition. We end up losing a part of ourselves as Knights. An example of this is the powder toss.

Powder Toss has been a huge part of Prospect’s tradition since it was started a decade ago. When it was first introduced it became a huge hit amongst students which is why after only 2 years of powder tossing over a majority of students we participated.

After taking a year off because of COVID, the powder toss would return to much excitement. However, just before the powder was to be tossed the Thor Guard went off which caused all students to be moved.

And according to Associate Principal Frank Mirandola the process of moving all of the students back and forth was challenging.

“We had to evacuate the area and then bring everyone back. And you know, once you lose control of a large group, it’s hard to pull that control back.”

So prevent having a large crowd and to create a more controlled environment the decision was made to end the large powder toss. And switch it to a smaller group format where you and a group of friends could throw a cup of powder in front of a backdrop.

“So we want to create the conditions that they’ll never be a concern again. And so that’s what we did with the formatting changes while once again maintaining the excitement, traditions, and cool photo opts.”

Now, I understand that there were safety concerns with the original format which is what would end up causing the change. And It was a great idea to change and modify the powder toss instead of scrap it. But it still concerns me that the original format is going into the closet.

I know we still have a form of powder toss, but it isn’t similar to what I remember doing my freshman year. I remember how excited I was to participate in my first powder toss: getting that cup of powder with my friends, and then once it was time, trying to toss that powder as high as I possibly could.

But now, no incoming freshman can have that same experience that I had with the powder toss. And as a senior who has gone through four years at Prospect, that really concerns me.

We’ve lost something that was a big part of our homecoming tradition. And to me, it’s not something that can be replaced with a smaller format.

And it’s not just traditions like the powder toss that have been moved away from. It’s simple things like our school’s fight song. How many people really know the words to it? 

Or the homecoming parade, which used to take place on Thursday around 4:00 p.m. during homecoming week. 

Mirandola said it ended around 2005 due to low attendance because in my opinion it was held on a day and time where people would not be home due to work or other extracurricular activities.

When these traditions disappear, that leaves us with just a school. Does anyone really want to go to that school where there is nothing special about it? Where traditions don’t matter and all you do is learn and leave? 

But with Prospect losing its own traditions, that’s what it feels like our school is slowly becoming.

As we move out of the history book of Prospects traditions, I think it is important to realize that not everything is lost. We have seen some traditions pulled out of the bomb shelter, such as the recently revived Prospect Games.

Prospect used to hold an exciting event called the Knight Games. The Knight Games were an evening of fun held during homecoming week, where all of the classes and teachers would get together and battle it out to see who was the top class.

Sadly Knight Games was discontinued, after injuries and poor sportsmanship displayed by classes. Which at the time caused a lot of anger amongst students due to it being very popular and a huge homecoming tradition. 

But now, they have been brought back as the Prospect Games. Instead of focusing on class v. class. The Prospect Games creates activities that have classes teaming up to play against each other. With its return, we now have a new version that can become a new Prospect tradition for classes to come.

We also still have Toga Tuesdays and class color days during homecoming, and new activities like OneProspect, Prospect Gives Back and Prospect’s Got Talent, which have started becoming yearly traditions. 

But for traditions that we have lost, it would be valuable to bring some of these traditions back; I fully believe that we need to remember and honor them, not just throw them into the field house closet to collect dust. So let’s remember those traditions, and sing our fight song with pride! Er….if I only knew it. U! RAH!

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    Mike MuellerOct 19, 2022 at 4:19 pm

    As Proud PHS Grad- Class of 1967 and retired US History Teacher(1971-2011)…I’ve Always Been A Big Fan of Traditions! Every Tradition Started w/ ‘Humble Beginnings’ & Had A Few ‘Bumps in the Road.!!’
    ‘Coach Mike’(Mueller)