Students and community members packed the stands for John F. Kennedy High School’s last homecoming game, but events surrounding the game proved to be subdued. While student organizers planned a carnival and hoped for a high turnout from members of previous classes, the main festivities were cancelled at the last minute and alumni attendance was mostly limited to graduates from recent years.
As part of a leadership class led by Principal Lisa Luft, senior Michelle Gutierrez and several of her classmates organized homecoming festivities. But Michelle said miscommunication among the organizers led the group to cancel plans for a moonbounce and other attractions on Oct. 25.
The senior and her classmates improvised a party inside the school with pizza, soda and a DJ. “It was pretty good for a last-minute thing,” Michelle said. “I learned how I’m going to have to become a leader when I fall in something like today with the carnival. I had to pick it up as soon as possible.”
Nostalgia pervaded the stands as JFK struggled against Canarsie High School. Larry Zaruski has attended games since he graduated in 1977. “It’s going to be very emotional,” he said of the pending closure. “But it’s been a good long run since they’ve been in existence.
Several parents at the game were still angry at the Department of Education’s 2010 decision to phase out the school due to persistent problems with academics and safety.
“This school should have gotten a better deal than this,” said Robert Vasquez, whose two daughters went to JFK and whose grandson was playing on Oct. 25. “It’s in a minority neighborhood, but you know what? Kids need to learn. I really feel sad about the whole idea that this is Kennedy’s last homecoming,” Mr. Vasquez added.
There was no homecoming dance. But that did not prevent schools located on the JFK campus from voting for kings and queens, who were announced at halftime.