BELLE FOURCHE | Jana Bastian said she had never seen a homecoming coronation like the one Monday night at Belle Fourche High School.
When Kendal Schreier and Autumn Shoop were revealed as king and queen of the Broncs’ 2018 homecoming court, the crowd went wild, she said.
“Everybody stood up. I’ve never seen a coronation like this. It was a standing ovation,” said Bastian, a teacher and senior class advisor.
The reason for the raucous acclamation: Shoop is autistic. The daughter of Allen and Kathy Shoop of Belle Fourche has attended school there from the beginning.
“Autumn’s classmates rallied around her,” Bastian said.
Kathy Shoop said Autumn’s classmates have always had her back, from the start in an Early Intervention program, participation in Special Olympics, church and school activities.
“She’s never been bullied,” Shoop said. “It’s been a very positive, beautiful experience.”
And how is Autumn reacting to all the hoopla?
“She is calm, cool and collected,” Kathy said.
“Dad and mom are on Cloud Nine and all the relatives are too,” Kathy said of her family which includes Autumn’s brother Justin and his girlfriend Ashley Weslockey.
“Some of the teachers cried. The other girls were thrilled for Autumn. Everyone wanted this to happen,” she said.
Kendal and Autumn will rule over the week’s homecoming activities in Belle Fourche, including a parade at 2:30 p.m., and a full slate of sports event culminating in Friday’s 6 p.m. gridiron clash against rival Spearfish.
Homecoming, the annual tradition of welcoming high school and college alumni back to their hometown schools is as much a part of the coming of autumn as cooler weather and the seasonal color change of foliage, to pumpkin spice-flavored, well, everything.
In Newell, homecoming festivities are also in full swing.
On Monday, Dana Youngberg and Marvin King were crowned queen and king of the Irrigators’ homecoming.
Having coronation early allows the king and queen to rule over the entire week, Newell superintendent Robin Dutt said.
Small-town homecomings bring many local alumni to town for the week, perhaps more than homecomings in larger towns, with multiple high schools.
“We still have the homecoming traditions,” Dutt said.
Youngberg is the daughter of Todd and LuAnn Youngberg. She is a four-year member of the HS Volleyball team and has been a captain for her junior and senior years. She is chapter president of the school’s Future Farmers of America, and its National Honor Society secretary.
King, son of Marvin and Raean King, plays linebacker and tight end, and is a team captain of the Irrigators football team, He is also a three-year member of the wrestling team.
Newell’s homecoming week will also feature a 12:30 p.m. parade on Friday.
A full day of sports, cross-country meet and high school and middle school volleyball and football will be capped with the varsity football game against the visiting New Underwood Tigers at 7 p.m.
The week is all about school spirit, as stated well in King’s coronation introduction. “Everyone come out and fill the stands — Beat the Tigers!” he said.
Homecoming festivities in other Northern Hills communities, Sturgis, Spearfish and Lead-Deadwood, are all on Sept. 28.