Homecoming Court Evolves With the Times

Image+courtesy+of+Meriam+Hjiej

Image courtesy of Meriam Hjiej

Joyce Zhang , Staff Writer

Roosevelt is known to be a school accepting of change as well as diverse and inclusive. A little over a month ago, students were sent a form to apply to run on the homecoming court. However, the candidates needed to have a cumulative GPA of 2.5 or higher and be in “good standing” with administration to be eligible to run. The list of candidates looked a little different this year, specifically for homecoming duke. 2 of the 3 that were running were boys, Tristan Doy and Nicholas Owens. Meriam Hjiej was the only girl running for homecoming duke and this was a surprise to many. Get to know more about Meriam and what her experience was like and how she felt during this process. 

Meriam is a sophomore and likes to play softball and is on Roosevelt’s varsity softball team and on a travel team as well. She enjoys helping people and her favorite subjects are government and social studies, specifically sociology. Meriam states how the best part of this whole experience was the “the support she had from everyone” and “people actually voting for her” because she did not expect people to vote for her or didn’t believe people when they said they were going to vote for her. And she also includes how “many people were happy to see the change” due to the fact that she was “breaking the stereotype.” She hopes that people will be more accepting of and inspire future candidates to run for positions based on their preference and what they are comfortable with, regardless of gender. She mentions how Ariana Phillips, who ran and won homecoming prince, gave her reassurance because Ariana was a girl and ran for homecoming prince, which is another stereotypical male position. Meriam emphasizes how she did this all for fun and did not expect to win because she assumed that “all the S/T kids would vote for Nick.” Nevertheless, the results came out, Meriam won homecoming duke!

Roosevelt, Meriam and Ariana were not the first and only ones to be a part of this change. Only less than 30 minutes away, Bethesda-Chevy Chase High School adopted a gender-neutral homecoming court and strayed away from its traditional and stereotypical practices of electing a girl as queen and a boy as king. This was five years ago and this practice has spread around America gradually, but it has recently become more popular. Austin High School, located in Texas, has had a gender-neutral homecoming court since 2018 and Westwood High School, north of Austin, got inspired by Austin High School and started taking it up just last year. Almost all of the students at these school felt that this change was necessary due to the fact of having “large community of LGBTQ+” at their schools and the principal of Westwood High School, Mario Acosta, “hoped that it would be taken in a positive light” because of the “very political and polarizing times” that we live in. Acosta hopes that “this tradition can carry on” at Westwood High School and the winners of the first gender neutral homecoming court can “leave behind a legacy during their time at Westwood.” 

Although Roosevelt wasn’t the first to go through this historic change, we were definitely not the last. And thanks to Meriam, Ariana and the acceptance and positive feedback from the Raiders of their wins, this can inspire future Raiders to have courage and confidence to do what they did. Meriam has confirmed that she will run again next year and she has emphasized that she will be running for homecoming prince because of the amazing and fun experience she had this year. We are all cheering you on Meriam and hope that you win again!