With nearly 2,000 students in attendance from both Webster Groves High School and Kirkwood High School, Roberts Gym will be crowded once again this November.
Friendship Dance is one of the oldest traditions between the two rival schools, symbolizing their friendship before the annual Turkey Day game. Serving as a version of homecoming, it takes place over a month after the traditional Homecoming season (September-October).
The ECHO conducted a poll about whether each school should have a separate homecoming dance, and 110 Webster students replied. Of the responses, 43.1 percent agreed Webster should have its own homecoming dance, 34.9 percent disagreed, and 22 percent were unsure.
Students were able to explain their choice, and many believed the Friendship Dance is unique to Webster and Kirkwood as is tradition; therefore it would be a shame to take it away.
“To get rid of this dance together would be like getting rid of the Turkey Day game. Both are ingrained traditions of both school that would be a terrible loss of friendship between two great towns and the history that accompanies this joined homecoming,” one student said.
While some students argued the dance provided a chance for Webster and Kirkwood students to overcome their differences and celebrate the friendly rivalry, others argued that students of the opposing schools hardly even interact with each other.
“Most people don’t even talk to the Kirkwood people, so you’re not becoming ‘friends,’ ” one student said.
The Kirkwood Call sent out a similar question asking if students would prefer Friendship Dance to involve both schools or just Kirkwood. Out of 208 replies, 64.9 percent thought it should just be for Kirkwood students, and 35.1 percent thought it should be for both schools.
“It’s part of the connection,” assistant principal John Raimondo said about Friendship Dance and the relationship between Webster and Kirkwood. “The football game goes way back, but [removing the dance] would have some impact even though the game is at the center.”
According to assistant athletic director and football coach Cliff Ice, the Friendship Dance started when the football rivalry between Webster and Kirkwood became violent. The game wasn’t played for a few years, so Friendship was started to heal the animosity and renew the rivalry.
“Part of the attraction is that it’s with Kirkwood,” activities director Jerry Collins said about Friendship. There are usually more outside guests than other dances because Friendship attracts non-Webster or Kirkwood friends that want to experience a unique dance.
Although the Friendship Dance has remained for nearly 80 years, the administration did consider some students’ opinion that Webster should have its own homecoming.
“About five-six years ago we wondered is [Friendship] really a homecoming dance? So we attached a homecoming to basketball in January,” Raimondo added.
Webster used to have a Sweetheart Dance in February but changed it in 2011 to Winter Homecoming and attached a doubleheader basketball game and spirit week.
“When we first did it, there was a lot of excitement, we created spirit week in the winter,” Ice said. This enthusiasm has evaporated and this year the dance will be called Winter Dance with no homecoming festivities.
Several generations of Webster and Kirkwood students have experienced Friendship, and in terms of the longevity of Friendship, Ice said, “Tradition has prevailed, and we felt that students have always liked it that way.”
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