TERRE HAUTE —
Woodrow Wilson Middle School staged a school-wide, lunchtime tailgate party Friday in preparation for Indiana State University’s Homecoming festivities this weekend.
Wilson will have an entry in the parade, with several student groups — and at least 150 students — participating, said Susan Mardis, school principal. Any Wilson student can join in, and the jazz band will also be part of the festivities.
“The students have been extraordinary this year,” Mardis said. “We’ve made a few changes, and we’ve really held strong on some changes in rules. I just wanted to reward them, celebrate Homecoming and bring some school spirit.”
This is her first year as Wilson’s principal.
The tailgate included a cookout and plenty of games, including a football toss, cornhole, frisbee and other activities. Several ISU football players joined the middle school students.
The guest of honor was Superintendent Danny Tanoos, who is one of four ISU Distinguished Alumni this year and will appear in today’s ISU parade. He was honored during a program at ISU Friday night.
“It’s a tremendous honor,” he said of the award. “This job has blessed my life in many ways.”
Tanoos said he owes his success to his family, including his parents, wife and son; support from the community; colleagues and friends; and his education at ISU’s College of Education.
Public education is “a team event,” he said, and it takes everyone working together to make it successful.
He’s received many awards, but being named an ISU Distinguished Alumni “is the jewel in the crown,” he said.
Among the Wilson students who will participate in the parade is Kaitlin Harris, student council president. “I’m really excited. I think it will be really fun,” she said. “A lot of students have watched the parade for many years and wished to be part of it. Being part of it is really special.”
Wilson students also “are excited to be rooting for ISU,” Harris said.
Eighth grader Angelo Cooper won’t be able to attend the parade because he has his own football game to attend today, but he was glad other students will have the opportunity to be in the ISU parade.
He did enjoy the tailgate. “It’s nice for us to come outside, enjoy some fresh air, play some games and do something different we haven’t done in past years since I’ve been here,” he said.
ISU football player Tsali Lough, whose dad — Jeff — teaches at Wilson, was on hand to interact with students. “It’s really cool because in the past, they’ve never done anything like this for the football team, so to feel the support and the love from the community is just neat,” he said.
Also attending the tailgate was Wilson graduate Kelly Rhodes, who attends ISU and is now a cheerleader there.
“It’s really exciting to come back and see the community supporting the college, which a lot of these kids will probably end up attending,” she said.
Homecoming is an exciting time at ISU, Rhodes said. “Everybody comes out from the community, and everybody is celebrating.”
Her mom, Christine Rhodes, a Woodrow Wilson teacher, said of the tailgate, “It’s great to get the students involved in community activities and supporting ISU.”
Sue Loughlin can be reached at 812-231-4235 or email@example.com.