Friday, November 04, 2005

Freshman Maid

IHS Homecoming 2000 (Click picture for larger view) Posted by Picasa
"Life gives us brief moments with another...but sometimes in those brief moments we get memories that last a life time..." ~ Unknown
Nyssa started high school in 2000. Immanuel was a small private Baptist school; her class had about 27 students at the time. Most had been there for years as she had; from kindergarten on. School started the second week in August with the emotional trauma of having three of her friends move from Mississippi to New York. Not only did she lose the sisters but their father, who had been her basketball and softball coach as well as her science teacher in eighth grade. His wife was her JV cheerleading advisor and coach. She loved them and they always treated her like another daughter.

But life goes on, as does school. Nyssa was elected class president the first week of class and representative to the student council. Her life was school, piano, basketball and church. Then homecoming came around.

When I was in high school the homecoming court was made up of four or five senior girls, one of whom would be crowned homecoming queen. My senior year a girl from my church, Darnice was elected queen. Girls wore wool suits with turtleneck sweaters and had corsages with huge mums and as many attached long streamers as possible. The band played and they stood on the field with their escorts, the senior football player of their choice.

Not so in the South; at least not in Columbus, Mississippi. Homecoming was a big deal. Each year a different theme was chosen; props were built with arches, gauze, and flowers, to act as a backdrop for the court. At the time the school colors were red, gray and white so the dresses of the court were red and the dresses of the seniors were white. Some years they were all the same pattern and other years the senior maids could have different styles. Instead of all seniors, each class elected a class maid and three or four seniors were picked for the whole school to vote on for homecoming queen. Teachers selected a kindergarten girl and boy to be the crown and flower bearers. There were practices and pictures and presentations at the pre-game assembly. The court arrived at the field in convertibles that year.

The freshman class selected Nyssa to be maid. She was shocked. I wasn't. After she was elected class president, I thought this was a possibility and I was worried. You see, the other tradition for the homecoming court is that all the maids are escorted by their fathers. Nyssa's dad was in Texas, not likely to come and she really didn't want him there. If Mr. Hewell had not moved two weeks before homecoming, she would have asked him to escort her. My dad and mom had gone on a cruise that was planned six months in advance and her Uncle Stephen was in Linz, Austria. Her drama teacher was going to be the announcer for the event so that was out.

Finally, we thought about this young man. Michael graduated about two years before and was in college at Mississippi State; his mother was the principle of the elementary school and had been Nyssa's third grade teacher. His girlfriend at the time had been Nyssa's summer "nanny" for two summers and she was enthusiastic about the idea. Nyssa thought Michael would be too embarrassed to escort her. But when she asked, he was most gracious and said he would be honored. His mom told us he was really excited about it.

The day before homecoming, Michael sent two roses to the school so she would receive them during class time. The note said he was so proud to escort his "freshman maid" and that he wanted it to be a day she would remember forever. Of course this really made her smile.

It was so cold and the wind was blowing that night; the convertibles had to keep the tops up but the castle wall stayed intact, Ray did a great job announcing the maids and escorts and I think the football team even won the game. Michael's mom ran around taking pictures of Nyssa and her son; she almost ended up with as many as I did. Nyssa was beautiful; Michael was handsome. In fact, this was the first time someone other than a father was to be an escort; and frankly I think most of the other girls were just a little bit jealous. Nyssa was on the arm of the most handsome gentleman there.

What a magic memory!

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