Parade makes homecoming real for new Apex high school

A banner near Apex Friendship High announces the school’s first homecoming celebration and parade set for Friday.
A banner near Apex Friendship High announces the school’s first homecoming celebration and parade set for Friday.

Students at Apex Friendship High have been waiting for a week like this.

They’re preparing for their first homecoming, which includes a parade Friday evening before the school’s football game against Holly Springs. They’ll be welcoming back the Class of 2018, the school’s first graduates.

Student Body President Teiari Matthews said Apex has really embraced the school, named for the Friendship community just southwest of town.

“We have a sense of community, and I feel like you can go somewhere in Apex and see somebody you know,” Matthews said. “I’m sure everybody will see a lot of people they know at the parade. And it just gives a big sense of community and a way to stay true to our school.”

The parade will begin at the Apex Nature Park on Evans Road and conclude at the school. A pregame tailgate party will occur between the end of the parade the start of the football game at 7 p.m. The Patriots are seeking their second win of the season.

In a lot of ways, Apex is a big town that still acts like a small town. That’s something Mayor Lance Olive likes about his town and its more than 50,000 residents.

Apex has hosted a homecoming parade for Apex High for years. Now the town is helping its newest high school build that tradition. Olive said homecoming parades are part of the town’s fabric.

“It’s Americana,” Olive said. “It’s one of the things I think sets us apart. Being in a parade is something the students will always remember. We’re lucky to have two great schools that identify with Apex.”

Apex Friendship principal Matt Wight knows all about the homecoming parade tradition. He led Apex High until moving over when the school opened four years ago.

“We finally have some graduates, and we were looking at a way to make it special,” Wight said. “It’s way to generate some excitement among the student body. And also we’re hoping it will be kind of a community event in the neighborhood adjacent to the school. We’re hoping parents will bring their kids out. It’s all part of building a culture at a new school.”

Part of that culture is decorating the school for “Spirit Week.” Each of the classes is decorating a stairwell in the school.

Senior Class President Amber Petrusa said students have been anticipating this week almost since school began in August.

“We’re trying to hype up the game and get everybody out to the parade,” she said. “We want to involve the community so they’ll show up and support our school.”

Senior Mary Kennedy also has been busy preparing for her debut on the Homecoming Court. Kennedy is a section leader at games.

“We’re trying to create all of these new traditions, our traditions,” she said. “We’re really trying to make sure our spirit and our love for our school comes through on Homecoming Week.”