It’s homecoming this week for Aspen High School and it couldn’t come at a better time for the Skiers community.
With school spirit sky-high after the football team defeated class 2A powerhouse Bayfield on Friday night, the annual school celebration has plenty of positive momentum heading into Spirit Week.
The high school has a different event each day this week to encourage student participation, with the community bonfire Wednesday and the homecoming football game Friday night giving anyone a chance to come celebrate the annual event.
“This is a week where we can get together and celebrate our kids and our community,” said Mary Ryerson, co-chairwoman of the Aspen High School Booster Club. “Homecoming week gives both our alumni and anyone who supports the high school a positive, common ground to get together, have fun and be part of the experience.”
The bonfire has become one of the more popular events. The high school will take over the corner of Cooper Avenue and Galena Street from 6:30 to 8 p.m. Wednesday evening. This year, the band will play, the dance team will perform, and the fall athletic teams will be introduced. There also will be several lighthearted events planned as well as the bonfire itself.
Besides the football team, the boys tennis, golf, soccer and cross-country teams will be recognized, along with the girls softball and volleyball teams.
Heather Starr-Kallas has been the head of the Aspen High School dance team for 13 years and will bring her squad of 19 girls and one boy to the bonfire. She believes that events like the community bonfire only reinforces a sense of community, while planting the seeds of tradition within the students.
“The bonfire is an amazing experience,” Star-Kallas said. “It’s so over-the-top and fun. This year will be even better now that our band is back. The music will add to the sensationalism, and that’s great. There’s always a ton of people at the bonfire, from parents to students and younger kids. The dance team always has a special routine for the bonfire, and this year is no different.”
The high school hasn’t had a consistent band presence for several years, but last year, Steve Heldt took over as the instrumental-music director for the district as well as band director at the high school.
The high school band is a mixture of 25 high school and 25 middle school musicians, giving Heldt some strength in numbers. One of his goals is to bring back the traditions of prep-band music, such as playing the school fight song and performing at athletic events.
“The prep band and the music they play is a vehicle for the students to identify with their school,” Heldt said. “Personally, when I hear my high school fight song, even to this day it brings me back to some of the best times of my high school career.”
The band had its first live performance at the Aspen-Bayfield football game. After a tentative start, the band came to life when the crowd began to respond.
“Once the fans began cheering, everything changed,” Heldt said. “By the end of the game, the kids in the band were so into it they were yelling and screaming. It was really exciting.”
Heldt figures that the bonfire will be another unforgettable experience for his students.
“Right now, they’re not sure what to expect,” he said. “But as soon as the people respond to them, I’m sure the band will respond right back. It’s going to be a fun night for everybody.”