MARSHALL — It was a big weekend here as students took part in homecoming activities after preparing for them all week.
One of the big highlights in this small town is building the floats on top of farm wagons loaned by students’ families.
As one of the first tasks, the float builders line the wagon beds with real sod donated every year by Paul’s Turf and Tree Nursery in town.
The rest of the float is designed by the students after they are given a theme. This year it was movies, and each class had a particular genre to depict.
Todd Carroll, one of the advisers for the junior floats and a business education teacher at the high school, said many come to watch the parade and see people they know because Marshall is small.
“It brings the community together because I think the community really looks forward to it,” he said. “Everybody gets a kick out of the floats.”
The students worked on the floats in either a shelter at Fireman’s Park or the shop area in the middle school that was previously a high school. They also made murals on 8-foot boards with the same theme. They will be displayed at the football game and then mounted on the walls above each grade’s section of lockers for the rest of the year.
The activities and other events such as the powder puff football game, dress up days and a lip sync at the pep rally all contribute to one class being named the winner of homecoming. This year the seniors won overall, but the juniors’ float was named the best.
Some students gravitate toward making the murals.
“There are a lot of homecoming activities, and we participate in a lot of them, but I think the board is my favorite part,” senior Gianna Dugan said.
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She was painting the senior mural with her friend, Abby Gillis, also a senior.
Senior Maddie Frank was working on signs for the float her class was making. It featured a wooden castle with water around it, a boat and train tracks with the train running over the mascot of the opposing football team faced in Friday’s game.
Frank said it is great that so many students contribute ideas for the float design but that also makes it difficult to come up with a consensus.
“Sometimes it gets really stressful, and we all fight,” junior Aleesa Dahl said. “In the end, it all comes together.”
The junior float featured a big pumpkin made out of paper that had lights and fog coming out of the top. A Marshall High School football player stood on the float and one from the opposing team was lying flat with a smashed pumpkin for a head. Junior Chase Zimmerman said the school’s homecoming is so late it made sense to go with a Halloween theme because his class needed to depict horror films.
“It’s my favorite time of the year,” senior Mitchell Motl said.
He said he likes being around his peers during the activities and was excited that his team won the boys volleyball tournament that was part of the weeklong events. He said he spends a good deal of time around job sites where his father works as an electrician so he feels those skills helped him with building the float.
His father, Greg Motl, and his mother, Jackie Motl, whose maiden name was Woodworth, graduated from Marshall High School in 1992 and 1990, respectively. Greg Motl, who played linebacker, was the homecoming king back when the honor went to a football player. Jackie said she was on the homecoming court her junior year as a volleyball team representative.
Back then, students painted windows of businesses in town instead of creating the murals, and the floats were built in farmers’ sheds. Thursday night featured the parade, skits and a bonfire at the school. Because the parade was at night, it was better attended, according to the Motls, who still go now. Greg Motl’s schedule is flexible because he is self-employed,and Jackie Motl works in the school district as a teacher in the 4K program.
“I know a lot of kids,” Greg Motl said. “I grew up here.”