Human Interest

Homecoming.jpg Preparations are in the works. The buzzing of a busy beehive is in the air, but as you get closer the sounds become more distinct — students’ laughter, rap music thumping from car stereos, shouts across the football field.


Alison Ecklund
Larson newspapers

Preparations are in the works. The buzzing of a busy beehive is in the air, but as you get closer the sounds become more distinct — students’ laughter, rap music thumping from car stereos, shouts across the football field.

“Robby, the freshmen made their float backwards. They put their float on backwards. How are they going to pull it?”

The news spreads like fire among the junior class members who are busy working on the finishing touches of their float, the float that will earn them first place in just a few hours.

By now the sun is melting the chill from October’s fall morning and Sedona Red Rock High’s football field, which is tucked like a valley in the red rocks, is beginning to heat up.

The lower classmen start filing into the bleachers to their appropriate class section. Soon a black mass forms in front of the rising sun on the opposite rim of the football-field valley.

A red sign with the word “Seniors” painted in black briefly appears, but is quickly ripped down the middle as the senior class charges through it, down the bleachers and across the field.

“Go away, go away, go away,” the lower classmen chant to the seniors.

Welcome to Sedona Red Rock High Homecoming, Thursday, Oct. 11.

Some are here to ride on their floats, others are nervous to perform a lip-sync dance in front of the entire school, teachers are dressed to fit the “club” theme of this year’s festivities, and some are anxiously awaiting to see if they will soon become king or queen.

Unlike in the movies, the varsity quarterback isn’t in the regal line-up, neither is head cheerleader.

Instead, the Scorpions have selected an eclectic bunch that might suggest more about the taste of today’s student body than just their preference in royalty.

This year, Ian Byer, the star of the school musical, Brenden Biermann, student body

president, and Paul Snyder, a self-proclaimed history buff, were nominated for king.

Courtney Loscheider, president of Key Club, Courtney Fitzpatrick, a soccer and basketball star, and Chelsey Camponeschi, president of the Anti-Defamation League were up for queen.

For the senior class of 2008, this was the first year the candidates’ profiles have changed.

For the past three years, it was mostly the same group of kids getting nominated each year.

Old habits die hard though, and Fitzpatrick, who was nominated all four years and became princess her sophomore year, took the queen’s tiara this year as well.

With long, blonde hair and blue eyes that sparkle, Fitzpatrick was a shoe-in for queen.

Born and raised in Sedona, Fitzpatrick has known her peers for all of her life, she said.

“She’s one of the leaders of our school,” Principal David Lykins said. “She participates in many extra-curricular activities and she’s been a model student the entire time she’s been here. I’d love to have 500 more like her.”

Fitzpatrick’s extra-curricular activities include participating on the varsity soccer and basketball teams and being a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club, which focuses on community service.

Although she’s not sure where she wants to go to college yet, Fitzpatrick is thinking of studying photography, but would like to travel to Europe or Africa before starting school and maybe do an internship abroad.

“Maybe in Switzerland. My mom and my sister both lived in Switzerland when they were 17. I’m the only one who hasn’t,” Fitzpatrick, 18, said.

The king is another story.

Paul Snyder never thought he would be homecoming king. In fact, he’s only gone to one homecoming dance before and he didn’t want to be nominated, he said.

“I guess that means I’m well-known,” Snyder said. “I didn’t know that.”

Snyder suggested he may be well-known thanks to the time he spilled acid on his pants during advance-placement chemistry and became the first to test the emergency showers.

“Everyone saw it and started taking pictures with their cell phones,” he said. “I became famous for it.”

He also won some popularity with his teammates after they suffered a big loss earlier this year.

“I was running and I slipped and fell in the shower room in front of the whole football team,” he said. “I raised everyone’s spirits.”

When Snyder, sporting black sweatpants and a matching black, hooded sweatshirt was announced king, everyone, from freshman to senior cheered in unison for the first time that day.

“He’s a good role model for the younger classes,” senior Matt Nazarian said, explaining why he voted for Snyder. “He’s a scholar, an athlete and an all-around good guy. We love Paul [Snyder].”

Although Snyder is a right offensive tackle for the varsity football squad, he’s definitely not the typical jock.

“We’re trying to make him more social. He’s more on the intellectual side,” Snyder’s classmate Jason Walko said.

Snyder is passionate about military history and spends most of his time reading military history books or watching about it on TV.

When asked which is his favorite war, Snyder took his time.

“There’s so many,” he finally said. “I’ll have to get back to you on that.”

When he did, two days later, the answer would be surprising coming from any other football player, but it’s not, coming from him.

“The second Punic War,” he said, referencing the third-century B.C. conflict. “I’m ancient.”

He plans to go to Northern Arizona University next fall for two years, then onto a more specialized school.

Specialized in what? Probably military history, but maybe computer science because it’s easier to find a job and better pay with computer science, he explained.

Snyder moved to Sedona with his family at 14 from California, but has adjusted well to becoming a Scorpion, Lykins said.

“He’s an all-around great kid. I think the student body’s opinion reflects that. I’m excited for him,” Lykins said after Snyder was named king.

The students’ choice for this year’s king proves that the students at Sedona Red Rock High are not trying to fit a mold or be predictable.

The stereotypes their grandparents and parents created while they were in high school, no longer fit the bill.

It seems that not only student-body taste is changing, but also their vocabulary.

“He’s baller,” senior Jovany Guevara said about why he voted for Snyder.

For those who still thought homecoming king and queen were the stereotypical quarterback stud and cheerleader ditz, “baller” is the new “cool.”

Alison Ecklund can be reached at 282-7795, Ext. 125, or e-mail to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


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