Even though it was midday on Saturday, the stars were aligned for Wilton High School on Saturday afternoon at its 50th Homecoming Game in Veterans Memorial Stadium, making it, well…very memorable indeed. From the weather to the score to the crowd’s spirit and behavior, it was a picture-perfect day.
Coming on the heels of events just days before that rocked the community–a Middlebrook hate crime with an anti-Semitic message left on a 6th grader’s locker, and the arrest of a WHS parent following a fight at a varsity soccer match–people were looking for the positives. They weren’t disappointed.
During his halftime remarks to the crowd, WHS principal Dr. Bob O’Donnell referred to how the community would respond after the negative events, telling them that Wilton would repudiate hate and violence in a united way, building on the #WiltonStrong hashtag that has caught on. “We will be ‘Wilton Stronger,'” he said to rising cheers from the crowd. “Wilton Stronger!”
Respect was the order of the day, starting with Coach Bruce Cunningham, the coaches and players as they walked, some holding hands, to the memorial markers at the south end of the stadium honoring the nine Wilton veterans who were killed in action (eight in Vietnam, one in Iraq). One by one, the Warriors touched each granite monument to remind the them of what dedication, commitment and community meant–things they showed in spades on the field and sidelines as they ran away with the game, defeating Stamford 45-14.
Just as respectful was the Tribe, the WHS student fans, all dressed in white and united to cheer on their team. They also cheered their friends and fellow students who were part of the Homecoming Court, which was announced at halftime, and a Queen–Kennedy Snyder–and King–Joel Darkwah–were crowned.
In the coming days Wilton will face the challenge of reinforcing its own commitment to uniting strong, with a chorus of voices louder than any other that expresses hate, intolerance and incivility. If the Homecoming weekend is any indication, Wilton will rise to that challenge, as O’Donnell suggested, stronger. Wilton stronger.