Columbia’s Hickman High School is changing gender norms one homecoming dance at a time.

The home of the Kewpies has chosen to change the title of homecoming queen to “homecoming royalty” to be more inclusive to all gender identities.

Abby Oreskovich, a senior homecoming nominee, said she thinks the decision to change the title is an excellent idea.

“I want Hickman to move forward in modernizing our terms and being more inclusive to all genders,” she said.

Oreskovich was also pleased because she has a nonbinary friend who she hopes will run for homecoming royalty next year. “I want them to have that opportunity without feeling like they have to fit into a label,” she said.

While believing that changing the homecoming label is ultimately a step in the right direction, junior Katy Parcell was initially saddened by the news.

“My sister got to run for homecoming queen and my grandma was homecoming queen, and I will never get that exact experience,” she said.

Although many students are excited about the news, Parcell said some feel like a tradition has come to an end.

In the past, homecoming was reserved for crowning a queen, while courtwarming crowned a king. “Homecoming ‘royalty’ is replacing our traditional king and queen system,” an Instagram post for Hickman’s Purple and Gold News read. “For both the Homecoming and Courtwarming dances, there will be one royal selected as ‘The Royal Winner.’”

The decision to change the title was made by the high school’s student government, Hickman Steering, in which students are voted into office by the student body.

“At the end of the day, it’s a good thing that more people are getting the opportunity to raise money,” Parcell said.

Each homecoming candidate spends the weeks leading up to the dance raising money for a charity of choice. The student body votes on who is crowned royalty, and the candidate who raises the most money receives an honorable mention.

Senior Isaac Lewis called himself the least traditional candidate ever seen on a homecoming ballot at Hickman. As part of the student government, Lewis played a big role in making the title change happen.

“My first priority was making it more inclusive based on gender,” he said. “Some people can’t relate to the titles ‘queen’ or ‘king.’”

Lewis agreed with Oreskovich and Parcell that the consensus of the student body supports this title change. “We’re making new traditions,” he said.

The first Hickman Homecoming Royalty will be crowned during halftime at the football game Friday evening. The outdoor masquerade dance will take place Saturday.

  • Jordan Thornsberry is a fall 2021 youth reporter studying journalism. She can be reached at jordanthornsberry@mail.missouri.edu

  • Elizabeth Brixey is the Columbia Missourian's education editor and an associate professor in the Missouri School of Journalism. She can be reached at (573) 882-2632 and brixeye@missouri.edu.

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