"The History of Homecoming at Gunston" by: Isabella Santoboni and Grace Holmes
Updated: Oct 17, 2018
Whether this is your first homecoming or your last, homecoming is a special night with friends, food, pictures, and dancing. However, its roots at Gunston stem from the school’s co-ed days.
When Gunston was an all girls boarding school, they were a part of the the Inter School Social and Activities Council (ISSAC), along with other boarding schools throughout Maryland and Virginia such as Episcopal, Saint James, Oldfields, Madeira, Foxcroft, and Blue Ridge. The organization planned activities between schools so students could attend social events off campus.
It was not until Gunston became a day school in 1997 that the dance committee was formed. Anita Gruss, Gunston’s former Athletic Director, was the founding chairperson, and with a group of students they met during club time, which did not meet as often as our clubs do today, and they mapped out the dances for the year.
They planned one dance per academic quarter, leaving four dances in total with the ISSAC. They also helped organize a day in which the schools involved in ISSAC would come together to play games, to have a bonfire, and then, finally, to dance. Mrs. Grabis remembers scenes of approximately 500 high schoolers on Gunston’s campus all playing field games and dancing.
After a few years of planning, Gunston was able to plan its first homecoming. The first Gunston homecoming, separate from ISSAC, was in 1999, after the first year of transitioning to a co-ed school in 1998. Like today, the dance had a theme: Starlight Moon Dance. Students were also allowed to bring one guest and it involved a bonfire, home game (no movie), and a dance.
At the bonfire, students often played their own version of a “powder puff,” a football game pitting girls against boys, and sometimes they just played flag football. Everyone attended the first homecoming, which consisted of approximately 80 students in total. It was also the first dance involving the 30 co-ed students comprising the ninth grade class. Mrs. Grabis recalls it as a memorable day. The boys soccer team won their game in overtime, so there was much celebrate at Gunston’s very first homecoming dance.