Throngs of Harker community members headed to the upper school campus on the clear autumn night of Nov. 5 for the 2016 Homecoming celebration, during which the Harker Eagles faced off against the Stellar Prep Thunder. Although Stellar won 42-7, the crowd had a great time as Harker pushed for every yard and, for just the third time in the program’s history, the football team qualified for and will compete in the NCS playoffs. The team travels Friday to Moreau Catholic in Hayward for a first round matchup at 7 p.m.
Prior to the game, attendees enjoyed food from Ms. Carly’s Café, prepared by the Harker kitchen staff, as well as pizza and sodas sold by grade 9 students to raise funds for class events. Students and parents circulated between the tailgating and recreation area near Manzanita Hall, and the food court and Davis Field on the other side of the new theater and gym construction site. A gelato truck also was on hand, serving tasty treats for the duration of the event.
As in years past, a small cluster of bounce houses were set up on the upper school campus, this year in the quad, keeping the younger folks in attendance entertained. “The food and the bouncy houses!” exclaimed Meona Khetrapal, grade 8, when asked what she enjoyed about Homecoming. “You’re never too old!”
Visiting alumni reunited with old friends and teachers at the special alumni area, a yearly tradition. “It’s an opportunity to visit with students and their families in other kinds of circumstances,” said Dan Hudkins, director of information technology service and support. “I love running into the alumni and hearing how their lives are going. I wouldn’t miss it.”
Prior to the game, lower and middle school cheerleaders treated the crowd to an upbeat dance routine, just before grade 2 Harker Eaglets took the field for one Homecoming’s most cherished traditions, the Eaglets Fly-By. The Chris Florio-led Harker Pep Band, positioned in the bleachers at Davis Field, provided music throughout the evening. Onlookers also enjoyed a tug-of-war between the freshmen and sophomores, to determine the third-place winner in this year’s spirit competition. The 10th graders ended up victorious.
Just before kickoff, the Harker Choir, consisting of lower, middle and upper school vocal groups, offered spirited renditions of “The Harker School Song” and “The Star-Spangled Banner.”
The anticipation built to a fever pitch as the Harker Eagles marched along the Gauntlet of Spirit toward Davis Field. As they appeared, the crowd roared its encouragement. The game started off with a bang when Harker scored the first touchdown, but Stellar bent to its task, taking the lead, 14-7, at the half.
Halftime brought more excitement with energetic performances by the Harker cheer squad and varsity dance troupe. The juniors and seniors also faced off in another tug-of-war for the spirit championship, with the juniors winning after a tense contest.
This year’s Homecoming court then took the field, joined by Head of School Chris Nikoloff, who thanked the community for the net that recently went up behind Davis Field’s eastern goal post, preventing “all those Eagles field goals” from going into the construction area. Seniors Ryan Vaughan and Kailee Gifford, who was also place-kicking for the Eagles, were then named as Homecoming king and queen.
The second half was tough, with Stellar scoring on some fine plays and Harker fighting valiantly to stop them. The core crowd remained to the end, cheering every effort by Harker. The weather was great, with just a nip in the air by the end of the game, and it was clear the crowd enjoyed the atmosphere and community at yet another great Harker Homecoming! Go Eagles!