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BELLWOOD | The weather for Proviso West High School’s homecoming parade held last Saturday resembled weather that one would experience on a Fourth of July parade. But the hot and humid conditions didn’t stifle the enthusiasm for the school’s first homecoming parade since 2010.
The parade started in front of the Bellwood Village Hall/Police and Fire Station, proceeded west on Washington Boulevard to Butterfield Road, and then south on Wolf Road to the high school. Several school clubs marched in the parade, along with both the Proviso West and Proviso East marching bands and dance squads. Representatives from the Bellwood, Hillside and Westchester fire and police departments also took part, as did Bellwood Mayor Andre Harvey and State. Rep. Chris Welch.
“It came as a surprise to me when I heard that (the school hasn’t had a homecoming parade since 2010),” said Welch. “But you’ve got a new (school) board and a new superintendent and principal who are trying to re-energize the community. There’s a lot of newly elected leaders around town like the mayor of Bellwood, so it’s a great time to do something like this and look at the weather. It’s such a beautiful day; you have summer-like weather in the fall and that means God is smiling down on this.”
Proviso West Student Council Sponsor Heather Wickey, chairperson of the math, business, technology and engineering department, said the idea to bring back the homecoming parade was presented to the school board by Proviso West Student Council president Luigi Cabantog, Dr. D. Dianna Thomas, Proviso West dean of students, and herself.
“Our school community, student sponsors and administration all wanted this event back to showcase what we do in the community or for the
community,” Wickey said. “It’s one of the reasons we started the parade in Bellwood; it’s one of our largest feeder communities. This is our one time of the year to showcase all our groups and what we do, and bring everybody together for our homecoming.” “Our goal with a new superintendent and a new principal was to bring back our school spirit,” added Cabantog, a senior at Proviso West. “I think this parade is a good way to set that up.” Wickey said it took a lot of time and effort to pull together all the details for the parade, including getting permits from Bellwood, Hillside and the Illinois Department of Transportation (IDOT) so the parade could proceed on the designated streets. “IDOT is involved; they’re closing Mannheim Road (during the parade),” she said. “It was a state event to do this.”
One of the floats featured the 2017 Proviso West Homecoming Court, while another float had District 209 Superintendent Dr. Jesse Rodriguez, Proviso West principal Dr. Nia Abdullah, and members of the District 209 Board of Education. Representatives from Proviso East and the Proviso Math and Science Academy participated, as well. “I know that the community and the school is very excited,” Abdullah said. “I’m just excited to be part of something so festive and so fun. All the children are really ready to receive the community. It (the parade) helps everyone see that we are united and are a part of the community and we are ready to continue to transform our school and the perception of our school.”
Previously, all of Proviso West’s homecoming activities took place on a Friday night, but this year with the parade, the homecoming football game was held on Saturday afternoon. The Panthers unfortunately lost to Oak Park-River Forest by a score of 44-21. Despite the outcome of the game, everyone agrees that reinstating the parade is good for the communities that feed into Proviso West—Bellwood, Hillside, Westchester, Stone Park, Berkeley, Melrose Park and Maywood—and for the school itself.
” It builds morale, it builds support and it shows that everyone is working together collaboratively,” said Michelle Lucas-Duckins, a chemistry and astronomy teacher who also is a student council advisor. “And it’s really good for the kids.” “It’s really great,” Cabantog said. “It’s nice to see the community being here together, and as a senior, it’s been a while that we’ve seen something like this.” “It brings out our spirit, it gets more kids involved, it gets more kids to the game and to the dance and just involved in the community showcasing what they have,” said Wickey.