Brown County High School students won’t have a homecoming game or dance this winter.

The reasons are twofold, said Principal Shane Killinger: “student behavior” and crowding in the school calendar.

“When I talked to the kids, I told them there’s a lot of schools going away from dances period because of the behavior and the parents complain about them,” Killinger said.

“A lot of schools only have one homecoming in the fall. We’ve had two. We’ve also been getting a lot of complaints about the behavior at dances … how they dance and things like that. … We decided that we would try something new this year.”

On Jan. 27, students were invited to attend the Riley Dance Marathon in the Larry C. Banks Memorial Gymnasium instead of a homecoming dance. The dance marathon is more structured, and all the money goes to a good cause: Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health, Killinger said.

Senior Abe Oliver is vice president of the dance committee, and the marathon was the biggest event yet, he said. It featured a bounce house, a dodgeball tournament, video games and food donated by local restaurants. There was also a chance for students to duct tape Killinger for $1 per piece of tape.

Students also had opportunities to hear stories from former and current patients of Riley. The marathon ran from 5 p.m. to midnight.

“Although most of the fundraising occurs throughout the rest of the year, the marathon is important because it rallies us together and reminds us why we do what we do,” Oliver said.

As of Jan. 24, the dance marathon committee had raised a little over $2,000, Oliver said.

Superintendent Laura Hammack reported the dance marathon raised over $5,000 for Riley Hospital on Jan. 28.

That number is expected to grow with money raised during upcoming spring fundraisers, Oliver said.

Junior Skylar Fleischman, the president of the committee, organized the first dance marathon three years ago as a freshman. She and two of her siblings were patients at Riley.

Students were charged $10 for a participation fee. Dance marathon shirts were sold for $5 and it cost an extra dollar to participate in the dodgeball tournament.

In the past, Killinger said that it was difficult to find a date to have the dance marathon.

“We were just not getting a lot of kids going, and the other thing was the date was always bad. Like last year, it was the Friday before spring break,” he said. “There are so many things going on and there are only so many dates. That was a way to give it some more emphasis.”

Another event, which students organized this month, also raised money for Riley.

When senior Jake Hunter heard there was not going to be a homecoming dance, he decided to gather a group of friends and plan something where they could cut footloose. The non-school sponsored dance took place Jan. 19 at Mike’s Dance Barn.

“I have yet to hear anything negative about it, and they had security and everything,” Killinger said.

“Since there wasn’t going to be a homecoming dance, that was kind of their decision to do.”

Hunter said he wanted to do something for school students and to have proceeds go to a good cause.

After paying off expenses related to the dance, Hunter said they had $1,005 left, which will be donated directly to Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health.

“I am not 100 percent sure on the legitimate reason as to why we’re not (having a homecoming dance), but I think it’s really ridiculous that we can’t be high-schoolers in high school,” Hunter said. “We all know how we dance. It’s what happens. And to take it away doesn’t make any sense.”

With the help of an Instagram page and word of mouth, news of the off-site dance spread. Hunter estimated between 170 to 180 students showed up on Jan. 19, some coming from other schools, like Indian Creek, Bloomington and Columbus.

“It was very surprising to see how many people actually wanted to come who weren’t even from Brown County,” Hunter said.

Author photo
Suzannah Couch grew up in Brown County, reading the Brown County Democrat. A 2013 Franklin College graduate, she covers business, cops/courts, education and arts/entertainment.