Panther homecoming has something for everyone

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Nadena MaHoney, transportation director of the Carroll County School District, stood ankle deep in mud and grimaced just before she plopped down in the goopy pit with nine other bus drivers lined up together, all bursting in laughter. 

“The Haulers,” the team name of the bus drivers, were sitting in mud and digging their heels in to prepare for their first challenger in the Mud Tug, a tug-o-war in which the competitors are seated. The drivers, teachers, and students who participated all got dirty for a good cause.

The Mud Tug

The new event, which raised $250 for a Special Olympics scholarship fund in memory of former CCHS custodian Charles Walker, was one of many activities associated with Fall Homecoming, which had “something for everyone,” according to coordinator Lynn Eaglin, business teacher at Carroll County High School.

“Charles used to joke around and say that my room and Mr. Vessels’ room were pig pens when he would come around to clean up after school,” Eaglin said. “So that was why we tied in the pigs and mud to make [The Mud Tug] a Special Olympics fundraiser. He and [his wife] Margaret were big supporters.” Margaret, a retired special education teacher, is still active in Special Olympics.

Eaglin said that one of the school’s goals in coordinating homecoming activities was to involve as many people as possible.

“Homecoming’s not really about one sport or even just sports,” Eaglin said. “We recognize all the fall athletes at our pep rally, but we’re really trying to build overall school spirit, give the kids leadership opportunities and involve the community and alumni in the school.”

For example, Agriculture teacher Joe Vessels, who helped coordinate the Mud Tug, said that the new event was initiated by two of his students, Rebecca Chandler and Katie Metsker, who prepared and delivered a proposal first to fellow agriculture students and then to CCHS Principal Tom Stephens.

“It was totally student driven,” Vessels said. “The students actually tilled the ground and asked the Carrollton Fire Department to bring out their truck and hoses to create the mud pit.”

Vessels said that his students would like to expand the Mud Tug next year and invite businesses and industries to form teams.

“We would like to make [The Mud Tug] more of a community event in the future,” Vessels said. “We’d love to have alumni teams, like 80s graduates versus 90s graduates. That type of thing.”

Panther Pursuit

Another Fall Homecoming event that involved many community members and alumni was the third annual Panther Pursuit. The fun 5 kilometer run/walk on the Carroll County High School and Cartmell Elementary School campuses had 151 participants, an increase over previous years’ totals, with a larger percentage being from the community this year, according to Eaglin.

English teacher Carl Roberts, an avid runner, is the designated “panther,” who sports a black head band with panther ears and a black panther tail, and gives the runners a one-minute head start. The object is for participants to finish the race before Roberts does.  Although one runner came close, Roberts’ time of 18:30 was still more than a minute faster  than that of second place finisher Kyle Wilson, husband of CCHS Science Teacher Mandy Wilson.

“It’s all in fun and a way to encourage students to be more active,” said Roberts, who also hopes for more participants next year. “We want the whole community involved because homecoming is a community event.”

Stadium decorating

Mandy Wilson, who also sponsors the Pep Club, which decorates the stadium before the Fall Homecoming football game, said that homecoming is “all about school spirit,” but pointed out that the decorating activity also gives students an opportunity to work as a team and compete against the other classes, using creativity, communication, problem solving and artistic skills. Wilson said that the stadium is divided into four sections with seniors, juniors, sophomores and freshmen each responsible for decorating one of the quadrants. The decorations are judged after lunch on Friday and the winner announced at the pep rally Friday afternoon.

“You learn who’s a leader and who’s a follower,” said senior Megan Oak, who likes decorating because she enjoys working with other students. “To get the job done, you need both.”

Fall Homecoming Week indeed had “something for everyone” — soccer and volleyball games earlier in the week; the Panther Pursuit; the Powder Puff game, which the Class of 2013 girls have won for three years in a row; the parade; Mud Tug and bonfire; and the pep rally; crowning of the court; the football game; and closing dance.

“It was amazing that we as bus drivers could join in the fun with our students—and they are our students, too,” Mahoney said. “We had a ball; we’re guaranteed to do it again.”


Jeff Fremin is director of public relations for Carroll County Public Schools.