When it comes to homecoming, Braden River High senior cheerleader Emily Byrd loves one special event more than any other.
"I've always loved the bonfire," Byrd said as she ate a s'more. "Since it's my last one, I'm trying to make it the best one ever."
More than 100 Braden River students participated in the homecoming tradition Oct. 10 that included performances from the school's Marching Band of Pirates, the Black Pearls, the cheerleading squad and a flash mob from the Student Government Association. The final group performed to the song "Hawaiian Rollercoaster Ride" from Disney's animated film "Lilo & Stitch."
"The (bonfire) really gives you a nostalgic feeling," said senior Christian Solorzano. "It gets you excited because it's sort of the pregame to (the homecoming football game) with the energy and good vibes."
Students watched as Assistant Principal Matt Whelden planted a kiss on Dorothy, a heifer in the school's Future Farmers of America program. As a fundraiser for Heifer International, a nonprofit working to eradicate poverty and hunger, whichever student donated the most could pick a staff member — Principal Sharon Scarbrough, bookkeeper Rachel Infanti, student support teacher Cynthia Stedman or Whelden — to kiss Dorothy at the bonfire.
The fun was just getting started as on Oct. 11, Braden River competed against Southeast High School during the school's homecoming game. Seniors Morgan Christiansen and Juan Brito were crowned homecoming queen and king.