Despite some deviations from tradition, organizers expect the usual cheers Thursday when the Decatur High homecoming parade makes its way through the streets of the River City.
The route will be the same, but instead of starting at Ogle Stadium, it will commence at the Old State Bank Building on Bank Street at 5:30 p.m. and end at the high school stadium, Principal Mike Ward said.
“We wanted to end at the school, where we plan to have a pep rally and bonfire,” he said.
The school has renamed its parade and, at the suggestion of teacher Patti Stutts, is calling it “A Parade with a Purpose.“
The goal is to get students behind a cause that involves the grand marshal, Ward said.
This year, Ethan LyBrand, 3, who has muscular dystrophy, is grand marshal.
Since his diagnosis in May 2011, Ethan’s parents — Jordan, a Decatur High School graduate and guidance counselor, and Josh, an Austin High School support staffer — have spent countless hours raising money for MDA.
“I think it’s neat that we have our students involved with an issue that we are facing in our community,” Ward said.
Muscular dystrophy is caused by a faulty gene that impacts the level of dystrophin — a protein that protects muscles. A lack of dystrophin causes the muscle fibers to break down and weaken, taking away the ability to walk and move.
“It means the world to us that they are honoring Ethan,” Jordan LyBrand said.
Stutts said classes are competing to win the “Purpose Trophy.”
The trophy will be awarded to the class “that raises the most money for muscular dystrophy in Ethan’s honor,” she said.
Ward said the homecoming assembly with the student body will be Friday in the auditorium from 9:30 until 10:45 a.m. Speakers will be Dr. Joe Burns of the class of 1953, Sonny Craig of 1963, Stan Evans of 1973, Beth Burns Gilbert of 1983, Shannon Whitfield of 1993 and Katie Evans Caldwell of 2003.
Decatur started inviting speakers from past decades in 1992.
For a second year, the homecoming queen will not be announced until halftime of Friday’s 7 p.m. game against Sparkman.
Decatur High’s 2012 homecoming court:
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