Homecoming Court: A Conch Pride Tradition

A decades-old Key West High School (KWHS) tradition is approaching: homecoming. A week of school spirit to celebrate Conch Pride and to crown a queen. Six women have been selected for court by the Senior class. The candidates, Charlotte Berube-Gray, Rosa Nafere, Natasha Galo, Mercedes Petro, Kaila Kirkpatick and Mary Parks share the excitement and honor of what being elected onto homecoming court means to them. 

Charlotte Berube-Gray, a homecoming queen candidate, expressed her glee about the moment she found out she was nominated. “I was extremely shocked when I heard my name over the intercom but filled with joy. I truly am so lucky.”

Charlotte and her escort, Eddie Strunk, preparing to play at a Conchs football game.

Charlotte continues, “I remember being inspired by seniors that were on the court in the past and wanted to be that person for underclassmen this year”. As a member of band, track, model United Nations (UN), National Honor Society (NHS), and Mu Alpha Theta, she is thrilled to be on court and be a role model for underclassmen at KWHS. 

Rosa Nafrere, another member of the homecoming court, divulged the rush of emotions she felt when heard her name called out as one of the nominees. “When I heard Dr. Schmeigel announce my name as one of the six girls who were going to be on court, I started screaming because I was just so overwhelmed with both shock and excitement.”

Rosa and her escort, Alexander Wilson, ready for the fun of homecoming. Photo provided by Emily Bracher

Rosa is a very involved member of KWHS and the community. She is the President of both the Class of 2022 Executive Board and Beta Club, as well as the Vice President of Student Council. She’s involved in Z Club, Chess Club, and Interact Club. Rosa is also the only teenage board member on both the Key West Sustainability Board and the Boys and Girls Club Board of Directors. The role she has taken in her community has inspired her fellow classmates to nominate her as a potential homecoming queen.

Natasha Galo disclosed her astonishment when she discovered that she would be on homecoming court. “I was honestly shocked and still too excited about hearing the first girl get called to fully realize that I was called as well.”

Natasha and her escort, Luis Ramos thrilled to dress up for the big day. Photo provided by Emily Bracher

As the Conchette captain, and an involved member of many academic and service clubs, Natasha is seen as an active role in within the KWHS community, which as she says, is doing “…what’s good while being honest and friendly”. 

Mercedes Petro revealed her response to hearing she was on court as well. “I was shocked and honored when I found out I was on court. Being recognized by my class is a good feeling”. 

Mercedes and her escort, Jacob Snyder excited to go to homecoming together. Photo provided by Mercedes Petro

Mercedes’ inspiration came from her older sister being on court and getting to see all the fun unfold for her sister before her eyes. She states, “When I was younger, I always looked up to the girls on court and hoped to be in that position one day”. Being a member of Z club, Soccer,Class of 2022 Executive Board, and Chess Club reaffirms the wish that younger students would look up to her.

Kaila Kirkpatrick was also excited to have received the nomination to be on court. She elaborates, “I’m very honored to represent my class in front of our community, and my fellow students… I think the main reason I wanted to be on court was to be able to participate in all the fun events”. 

Kaila and her escort, Aiden Vernetti, eager for the festivities to begin. Photo provided by Emily Bracher

As the Vice President of the Class of 2022 for four straight years, the current captain of the Varsity Cheerleading team, goalie on the Varsity Soccer team, Sports Editor of the KWHS Yearbook, student council and chess member, Kaila has been impactful to the community of Key West High. 

Mary Parks was elated to be put on court by the Senior Class of 2022. Mary remarks,”I wanted to be on court because I want to represent KWHS as a validation of the great things I’ve accomplished. I believe I exemplify all the characteristics of Conch Pride”. 

Mary and her escort, Eric Barter, happy to attend the exciting events of homecoming. Photo provided by Emily Bracher

Involvement in steel pan, choir, band, Class of 2022 Executive Board, NHS, Z Club, and track prove her dedication to the school. Mary acts as a role model for underclassmen to look up to as well.

Charlotte Berube-Gray, Mary Parks, Natasha Galo, Kaila Kirkpatrick, Mercedes Petro and Rosa Nafere (L-R) all accepting the responsibility of their nominations onto homecoming court. Photo provided by Rosa Nafere

Each of the homecoming court candidates show perseverance, respect, integrity, dedication, and excellence. They all truly have Conch PRIDE.

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