Lawrence’s high schools celebrating homecoming — at home

With stadiums at high schools, fall rituals take on added meaning

Lawrence High senior Jonathan Gabler, left, and other members of the school’s Drum Line were part of the homecoming pep rally Wednesday at the school, 1901 La. LHS and Free State High School will play homecoming football games Friday at newly constructed athletic fields on their campuses.

Home will be the key word for Lawrence’s two high schools Friday as they each celebrating homecoming.

“The actual homecoming game will be played at home,” said Jan Leonard, the Lawrence High activities director and assistant principal.

With the nearly finished athletic stadiums now on the Lawrence High and Free State campuses, the Lions and Firebirds will take the field Friday night in games at home — a change from recent homecoming games at Haskell Stadium or Memorial Stadium.

“I think it makes it more of a home-like atmosphere,” said Lisa Boyd, a Free State assistant principal.

Also making this year somewhat of a rarity, both high schools’ homecoming games fall on the same night for the first time since 2005.

This week is filled with festivities for students at both schools, culminating Friday with simultaneous parades. Both parades will follow their traditional routes.

• The Lawrence High parade will leave South Park at 2:30 p.m. and head south on Massachusetts Street to 19th Street. Parade participants will then head west on 19th Street to LHS.

During the parade, traffic will be allowed to travel in the eastbound lanes of 19th Street and northbound on Massachusetts Street. However, due to parade traffic, Leonard said drivers might want to generally avoid the area — particularly the 19th Street intersections with Tennessee and Kentucky streets –from 2:30 p.m. to 3:15 p.m.

• The Free State parade begins at 2:45 p.m. at Bob Billings Parkway and Wakarusa Drive. Participants will move in the northbound lanes of Wakarusa Drive. The southbound lanes will be open, but Boyd said it was best for drivers to generally try to find a different route if they can until 3:15 p.m.

At 7 p.m. Friday, Lawrence High will take the field against Olathe South, and Free State plays Shawnee Mission Northwest. Homecoming dances will begin between 9 p.m. and 9:30 p.m. Friday at each high school.