An open letter from MHS principal Shannon Murray:
Homecoming in Merrill has always been a special time. It’s a chance for students to show their pride in Merrill High School and the community, a time for old friends to come back to town and get reacquainted, and a chance to enjoy some exciting high school football.
We are very fortunate in Merrill to enjoy a true Homecoming week, courtesy of our small town roots and the involvement of the Silver M. We are lucky to have hung on to, or in some cases brought back, the traditions that define Merrill High School and embody the high school spirit that so many of us remember from our own high school days. As a result, Homecoming is something that the entire Merrill community can be proud of.
But Homecoming isn’t just for the students of Merrill High School; it’s for the entire community to participate in and enjoy. To that end, I would like to invite each and every member of our community to join us as we celebrate Homecoming 2011.
The festivities begin this Friday night as we kick off Homecoming weekend with the Bluejay Block Party in the courtyard on the East side of Merrill High School. This party, which begins at 5 p.m., is a great chance to visit with friends, enjoy great music, meet the football team and the Homecoming court, and see the dance and cheer team perform. It’s also a great opportunity to join us for supper as brats and other foods will be sold by various school groups.
At dusk, everyone lines up for the traditional Snake Dance to the bonfire. Follow the students as they snake their way from the high school toward the fairgrounds. If you’ve never seen one, it’s quite a sight to behold.
The bonfire begins Friday night at dark at the skating rink across from the fairgrounds on Sixth Street. Bring a lawn chair, sit back, and enjoy the sights and sounds of this renewed tradition. Saturday morning brings the Homecoming parade. Road construction has the parade beginning at 11 a.m. at Streeter’s Square, heading east on Third Street to Center Ave., and then north on Center back to Jay Stadium. Because of this change of route, there will be plenty of good spots to view the parade in the area of Victory Lane, the former Fox Point building and the High School itself.
The weekend culminates with what promises to be an exciting football game as the Bluejays take on the Onalaska Hilltoppers. The game will include all of the pageantry that you expect of a Homecoming game including the introductions of the Silver M members and Homecoming court, excellent performances by our Marching Jays and the MHS Cheer and Dance team, and promises to be a wonderful display of school and community pride.
One of the great things about the Homecoming weekend is the cost. You could attend the courtyard Bluejay Block Party, the Snake Dance, the Bonfire, and the Parade for free. Admission to the game is only $3.
Merrill, I encourage you to celebrate your high school and your community by participating in our homecoming celebrations. Very few places still embrace Homecoming like we do, and we should be proud of our traditions. So join us for this fun and pride filled weekend. You will be happy you did.
Cresting the Hilltoppers?
By Kelly O’Day
A Bluejay squad that had difficulty closing out games early in the season, but seems to have figured some of it out in their current two-game win streak, will host a talented Onalaska team in Saturday’s Homecoming game.
The Hilltoppers (4-2, 2-2) have only taken losses from Tomah (5-1, 5-0) and LaCrosse Logan (3-3, 2-1).
“We have to take care of business against a very good Onalaska team,” MHS coach Tom Tourtillott said. “They’re coming in 4-2 and coming off a big win over LaCrosse Central (0-3, 1-5). Homecoming is about a football game and we have to come out ready to play.”
Merrill sees something of a mirror-image when it looks at Onalaska.
“They run an ‘I’ formation and spread it out, and give a lot of different looks, just like us on offense,” Tourtillott said. “They have a very good quarterback (in Zach Schmidt), comparable to the Menomonie kid (Neico Stokke).
“On defense they run a 3-5-3 attacking formation.”
The Jays are 2-4, but three of their losses-including two to state-ranked teams-came by a total of 22 points after Merrill had built early leads. That includes a 14-point deficit to #6 Mosinee.
“I think we’ll be all right,” Tourtillott said. “We’re improving. We just have some guys that need to step up and believe. We have not played a full 48 minutes yet in a game and it’s Week 6. We just have to put it together because when that happens, we’re going to be pretty good.”
Silver ‘M’is pure gold
Merrill’s unique Silver ‘M’ Club is synonymous with Homecoming. Former MHS football players become members 25 years after they first earn a letter, and they meet to reminisce and raise money for scholarships.
Official activities start at noon on Friday with the shotgun start to the Scholarship Golf Tournament. The four-man scramble has raised tremendous amounts of money to add to the club’s investments, with the principal used to offer multiple college scholarships each year. Call Sid Sukow at 218-0044 for registration or to donate a prize.
The annual Friday evening get-together with snacks, music and conversation will begin at 7 p.m. at Cal & Kathy’s Club 64, 2405 W. Main St.
Check-in for the main events will be held from 8 a.m.-noon on Sat. in the MHS cafeteria. Use the Sales St. entrance.
The Homecoming parade will begin at 11 a.m. on Saturday, from Streeter’s Square to the high school. A float or bus will be provided and members, especially new inductees, are encouraged to participate. Assemble at Jay Stadium by 10:30 to do so.
A brat sale/tailgate party will begin at 11 a.m. in the Jay Stadium parking lot. Game time is 1:30 p.m. so members are requested to arrive by 1:00 and meet in the south end zone for pre-game introductions.
Registration and social time for the banquet at Lincoln Lanes begins at 4:30 p.m. Open bar is offered from 4:30-9 p.m., followed by a cash bar. Complimentary beer will be available until 12:30 a.m. Dinner is served at 6:30, with the annual business meeting to immediately follow.