The Elkin schools kicked off the Elkin High School’s first home football game with the annual tailgate Friday night. Teachers, faculty, students, and parents went to the field for hot dogs, drinks, and a chance to commune before the kickoff.
“This is something that’s done once a year,” said High School Principal Joel Hoyle. “It was set up originally by the chamber of commerce to show their support to say thank you for your support and it’s grown since then. It’s a good time for the community to get together.”
“A lot of students come out and eat have some time to get together,” said senior student and cheerleader Rebecca Reece. “I’ve been here a couple times. I think it’s important for the schools because it’s something the administrators can do for the kids and community members.”
Before long the baseball field had turned into a packed parking lot.
Many members of the community turned out for the tailgate.
“They’ve been doing this for years and I love it,” said Dr. John Orta with Hugh Chatham Hospital. “You get to see so many people. The food is fantastic. There’s great people here, you get to commune with them, there’s Elkin pride and it’s a great way to start a game. What more can you ask for?”
The football team came out for a preliminary warm up before going back to the locker room and coming down at game time around 7:30 p.m. The first home game was against the Golden Eagles from Surry Central. Even though the teams weren’t in the same conference, there was still a fierce rivalry between the two.
David Steelman, executive director of the Yadkin Valley United Fund attended the game to introduce the board members.
“We’ve got our sign hanging over there and they give me a few minutes to introduce some of our board members with Yadkin Valley United Fund before the game,” said Steelman. “This is my second year doing this at the tailgate with United Fund. I’ve never done anything that would be this much fun and be this rewarding. It’s been a blessing to say the least.”
For many parents and community members, seeing the students working hard brought back memories of their own youth.
“My favorite thing was watching the students and the band,” said Myra Cook, president of the Yadkin Valley Chamber of Commerce. “I was in the band in high school playing French horn and seeing the students in it here takes me back. This has always been one of my favorite events of the year.”
Some high school students also had a stand set up for the Academic Enrichment Foundation for a bingo night with a chance for prizes, including a two-night stay at the Fairfield Inn Marriot Hotel and a two-week trip to Myrtle Beach. Students were working shifts to run the stand throughout the game.
“I think it’s good for us to rally together and get our school spirit up before the game,” said senior student and Student Council President Cameron Beals. “It’s also really nice to hang out and have dinner together and it lets us bond before the team plays.”
“It’s all about getting excited about the game with our friends,” said senior student Emma Aldridge with the Interact Club. “We run a page to advertise a theme for each week and this week is toga night. It’s a thing that everybody can join in on. We like getting dressed up.”
The school tailgate has always been an important event for the community. It brings people together, some who don’t even see the students at their finest. It shows how the school works so hard to make these events happen. People got to see the staff, the teachers, and the school board member work together for the education and development of their students.
“How do you describe family get-togethers? That’s what it is,” said Dr. Orta. “This is an extended family for me. I did not grow up in this area but this community makes me feel like a family here. The thing about Elkin is it’s a great place to come to raise your family. This school is one of the best schools in the state and the economy here is wonderful. That’s what this is all about and everybody knows each other.”
“I feel like it shows the parents that all the school staff are invested in and care about their children,” said Cook. “The community cares about the students. I want them to have a good, safe time at all the school events like we use to and here in Elkin, you can see that. It’s safe, the students are happy and they’re not out getting in trouble. They’re here at the football game and having fun.”
Troy Brooks may be reached at 336-258-4058.