October 11, 2017

Theresa Java/Free Press
The Coral Shores High School 2017 Homecoming Court, from left, Alexis Romero, Cole Yeager standing in for brother Jack, Gigi Matos, Elijah Woods, Paige Joyce, Ty Harrelson, Julianne Jankowski, Dustin Chamberlain, Tori Aucamp and Zane Absten. 

Theresa Java/Free Press The Coral Shores High School 2017 Homecoming Court, from left, Alexis Romero, Cole Yeager standing in for brother Jack, Gigi Matos, Elijah Woods, Paige Joyce, Ty Harrelson, Julianne Jankowski, Dustin Chamberlain, Tori Aucamp and Zane Absten. 

UPPER KEYS — When Hurricane Irma derailed homecoming dance fundraising efforts, the student committee at Coral Shores High School rallied the community to give them a boost. Donations flooded in almost immediately. People stepped up to provide food, cash and professional services. As a result, the Canes’ homecoming spirit has pervaded well beyond the school corridors.

This weekend’s homecoming dance will go on.

According to Beth Rosenow, Coral Shores science teacher who oversees the student council, post-Irma locals, alumni or not, may view homecoming as a way to defend their hometown turf.

“Our community has been so incredible. I didn’t expect this,” she said. 

The students are thankful for the outpouring of support.

“We had off 13 school days because of Irma, so we didn’t have time to do traditional fundraising,” said Lily Costa, dance committee chair.

Costa and fellow co-committee members Bella Olsen and Kaylee Stoky did inventory. They knew they could afford decorations, but they realized they were short on cash for food.

They had to come up with something.

“We thought about asking local restaurants for food and realized that was the best solution. I decided to reach out to Mike Forster of Mangrove Mike’s. He posted on his Facebook page, and people came forward from there. In four hours, we had 32 donations already,” Costa said.

As of last Friday, the community had raised $2,500 in cash and Forster anticipates more.

“I didn’t want them to have to go without homecoming,” he said. “Kids don’t talk about things as much as adults do and this storm has affected them. This is the ‘new normal,’ and I just wanted to make sure that every kid was able to attend.”

This is Costa’s third year on the committee as a junior. She’ll pass her responsibilities down next year to an underclassman. It’s a tradition she’s proud of.

“We announce our committees the first day of school, and then we spend an hour a day, four or five days a week. All-in, it’s a lot of hours,” she said.

This year’s theme is “Just Dance,” and Costa’s team is decorating with neon colors and black lights.

She’s not entirely sure about the complete menu, as donations were still trickling, but so far, Chef Wes Brage is donating a 50-pound carved tenderloin, the Stoky family is donating mac-and-cheese trays and cupcakes have been proffered. CentreState Bank has donated water, Publix will be making a donation, and countless others have made cash donations.

Enough money has been pledged to defray the cost of dance tickets, but the committee is still asking for a $1 donation for a headcount.

“What we’ve been able to do with all these donations is offer this dance for free as opposed to charging a ticket price,” Rosenow said. “There are lots of students and families that need help now since the hurricane.”

Rosenow said two-thirds of the school population, or about 450 students, usually attend the homecoming dance. 

“This year I‘m hoping for more,” she said.

Any extra cash will go toward student body events.

“I’m going to share these contributions with the prom committee,” Rosenow said. “We may have a reduced tourist season and families who are in the industry may still need help later down the line.”

The average prom ticket price is $75.

Coral Shores will cap off a week of events with the homecoming dance at 7 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 14, at the school gym, one day after the parade and homecoming game against Miami Christian.

Check or cash donations can be mailed or delivered to the Coral Shores High School Homecoming Committee at 89901 Overseas Highway, Tavernier, Fla. 33070.

To donate food or items to the dance, email Rosenow at beth.rosenow@keysschools.com.

tjava@keysnews.com