EHS Homecoming: The Birth of an Ongoing Tradition

Spirit of Erath Centennial Series

     "Football players, cheerleaders, parades, open house - these are just a few things that come to mind when I think of Erath’s Homecomig" states Melanie Quirk Allmean, a former Erath student and current teacher awaiting to celebrate her 20th class reunion. Though Homecoming had different meanings to all, in Erath the common thread without a doubt, is a rare mixture of school and community spirit.

     As with other communities in the area, Erath Homecoming stems from football games. The idea of implementing a football team originated in Erath during the late forties. At that time, Coach Robert Segura, Sr. questioned several teenage boys about their interest in the establishment of a football program. A great deal of interest was displayed, so the implementation of the school's new sport emerged. Travis Kendricks a relatively new resident of Erath, had married a hometown girl, Ethel Flowers and settled in the community. Kendricks had played on the 1936 Haynesville High School Football squad when his team brought home the state championship title. From there Kendricks played on his college team for Northwestern. Through his experience, talent and precious time, he offered his expertise and played a vital role in the birth of Erath's football establishment. Though not a school employee, his shared his time and experiences with the young team. The first football season opened during the 1949-50 school year, with six man football and in 1953 moved to eleven man football. Through the years, the sport has grown and within the football realm, another one school tradition took root and flourished.

      In the wake of football’s birth, J.P. Landry, an Erath High School Teacher and Counselor for over thirty years, carefully laid down a unique pattern and style of celebrating the EHS Homecoming events.  Without realizing his impact, he set the stage that is still alive and kicking in Erath more than a half of a century later. 

     Though the EHS Homecoming events do parallel other homecomings in the area, one unusual aspect lies with school visitations the morning of Homecoming. That visitation seems to touch the community schools and parents. Dozier Kindergarten Teacher Cecile Dubois stated Homecoming for me is the excitement and anticipation of the children as they look forward to visits from their moms, dad, grandmas, and grandpas during school visitation.  3rd grade Teacher Melanie Quirk Allmean adds “As a student, I remember anxiously waiting for the football players, cheerleaders and homecoming court to stroll through our "blue and white" classrooms.  As a teacher today, it is exciting to see parents and relatives who are so supportive of our school and community.”

     Monica Granger Calvert shared her thoughts in terms of classroom visitation and it’s impact on her.  “I couldn't wait for my mom and our MANY relatives to come to our room and visit. It was like the ULTIMATE OPEN HOUSE of all times. And the best thing of all is that we knew we would do it all over again the following year!”  Claudell Suire Thibodeaux agreed by sharing her thoughts. It is a day that brings the community together to enjoy a tradition that I hope continues for many more years to come!

    Amazingly, despite the fact that Hurricane Rita's flooding damages sent all three Erath Schools to different locations in Vermilion Parish, not even then was homecoming cancelled.  Many leaders felt that with the devastation brought by Rita’s flood waters in 2005, the town could use something positive to lift the spirit of the schools and town. With Erath High sharing the Abbeville High campus, not even that diminished the EHS Homecoming spirit.  Mother of two and Erath native Jennifer Leblanc Mendoza stated It was the most awesome feeling to see all of our kids walking the AHS halls and celebrating with our Alumni, with the EHS band blaring our fight song in the hallways!  And to top it tall off…was the pep rally with ALL of Erath’s students gathered at Abbeville High celebrating and enjoying the beautiful day!”

    The football team has now had fifty nine seasons and the school has now an equal amount of  Homecoming queens and courts. Crown bearers are still a part of the tradition as well.  Two first graders from Dozier are chosen each year to be part of the pre game presentation of the court. The 1961 EHS Crown bearer Cindy Hidalgo (Hargrave) smiles as she remembers the memories that year.I was able to ride in a convertible with my beautiful queen Charlene Delcambre in the Homecoming Parade.  I attended the EHS Tea and later carefully walked down that white chalk line on the football field to the tune of ‘A Pretty Girl is Like a Melody’. It is a memory I will never forget!"

     When the homecoming tradition began in the 50’s, Erath had one school campus with grades 1-12.  While the community grew in 1972, the school campuses were separated. Dozier Elementary and Erath Middle were renamed and the two became feeder schools.  However the legacy of J.P. Landry’s Homecoming festivities which started more than twenty five years earlier continued despite the school separation.  It was soon realized that not even split campus school facilities could stop the community connecting and celebrating their homecoming festivities on each campus.

      Though the football game is the reason they gather, it is the connection to each other that is the main component. All three schools still have school visitation homecoming morning. It is a tradition that many residents and students hold dear to their hearts.  Sadie Menard Suire stated that she remembers how “during the week of homecoming, we decorated the halls with Haunted Houses, blue and white, or whatever it took to pump us up.  These Homecoming events like annual visitation time brought more lessons about community spirit to the students than any lessons we could have read about.”

     1997 Graduate Robert Vincent’s stated “It’s a chance to celebrate all the the things that make Erath the special place that it is: our people and our schools and the love and pride that all Erath people share for both.  Long live this precious jewel of the Erath community. “

     The thread that has bound the Erath Community through the fifty years lies with its legacy, memories and strong community spirit.  What J.P. Landry, Robert Segura, Travis Kendricks, many teachers and community citizens have shared through five decades  binds the community in what has become a rare  town tradition.

     Once a year, the town gathers and evident is the sixty year old spirit that makes the “home” in homecoming a unique celebration. Whether the memories lie with visitation, parades, football games, queens, courts, cheerleaders or other components of the celebration, the thing that defines the Erath High School Homecoming events is undoubtedly the indescribable community and school spirit that descends on the small town each year.  It began with a handful of teachers, coaches and leaders in the latter part of the 40’s and early portion of the fifties, but ends with a town now who has learned to treasures it’s roots, legacy and warm traditions.

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Spirit of Erath Articles (Keys to the Past Series)

Written by Stacy Bodin, Erath's 100th Anniversary Erath Centennial Historian (1999)

A Special Thank You goes out to Attorney Warren Perrin;
 the Acadian Museum in Erath;
Kermit Bouillion;
Curney Dronet, (Erath Author);
the Abbeville Meridional (Local Newspaper);
(The late) Clement Bourgeois Jr., (Erath Historian);
John LeBlanc (Town Official);
The 1999 Centennial President Jackie Vincent;
Robert Vincent (Acadiana Museum Director);
and my parents Larson "Cap" and Gertie Hebert Bodin
who assisted me in my research in this project.

The articles presented in memory of
Relie LeBlanc III
whose enthusiasm and love of Erath
inspires me still today in my quest of
researching and writing about our community. 
His "Unity in the Community" motto
will forever remain in my heart.

Photo of LeBlanc is
Courtesy of Dickie Durr's Thrifty Way of Abbeville

Questions or comments?
Email Stacy Bodin

Erath Map (MapQuest)

Erath July 4th Celebration
The Acadian Museum in Erath, Louisiana

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