After midterm season, Panthers showcased what it means to Bleed Blue

Panthers parade the Downtown Atlanta streets for Homecoming 2017. | Photo by Sophia Marchese | The Signal

Waving goodbye to the stressful midterm season, Panthers grabbed the opportunity to come together during Homecoming season and show off what it means to bleed blue.

The floating silver “Homecoming” letters over Unity Plaza kicked off the week when students get to simply enjoy being a Georgia State Panther. In an unprecedented schedule, Morehouse College, Spelman College, Clark Atlanta University, Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State University all enjoyed celebrating the decades-long tradition.

Photo by Sophia Marchese | The Signal

Students across all six of Georgia State’s campuses got into the spirit with events ranging from walks, parties, movie showings, tailgates, and of course, the Downtown Homecoming parade, in the heart of Atlanta.

While Homecoming plays a different role in different students’ hearts, it serves as a reminder of the best parts of being a Panther.

“When everyone comes together for [Georgia State], it really shows who we are as a school,” Georgia State freshman cheerleader Julia McIntyre said.

Whether it’s the parade, the Royal Ball or the Homecoming football game, everyone has their own reasons for living in the spirit of Georgia State. But what does it really mean to be a Georgia State Panther during this annual week of university pride?

Celebrating in the heart of Atlanta

Panthers met on Gilmer Street Thursday morning, Oct. 19, for the highly anticipated Homecoming Golf Cart Parade. School organizations and departments represented themselves with elaborately decorated cars and golf carts as they strutted through the streets of Atlanta waving to spectators.

This annual event is an opportunity to showcase the interwoven cultural fabrics that make up Georgia State.

Photo by Vanessa Johnson | The Signal

The parade was led by those crowned during the 2016 Homecoming season. Perched on the back of shiny convertibles, these royal representatives smiled and waved to attendees as the 2017 Homecoming court followed closely behind on a giant float.

Norae Woodard, this year’s official winner of Ms. Georgia State, was gifted the opportunity to live out her childhood dreams while floating through the streets of Atlanta campus.

“Ever since I was a little kid watching the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade, it was always on my bucket list to be a part of a parade on my own,” Woodard said. “I got to live in the spirit of the moment and feel like royalty while screaming loud and proud.”

Panthers cheered enthusiastically as blue and white knickknacks and sweet treats flew through the air. Parade members threw T-shirts, stress balls, pens, phone adornments, you name it. Everyone loved the opportunity to get some new Georgia State swag and a midday sugar rush.

Photo by Sophia Marchese | The Signal

Shining Panthers

Even non-Georgia State passersby took a break from their workday to enjoy the sights and hear the sounds. Sophomore Lauren Rivers, a piccolo player for the university band, was bubbling with delight after filling the streets with music.

“I just saw everyone dancing and having a good time,” Rivers said. “Even grown folks who don’t go to Georgia State—they’re just at their job, about to get on their lunch break and they just started dancing when they saw us. That brought joy to my heart.”

That’s the beauty of going to college in the epicenter of Atlanta. We always have the opportunity to show the city what it really means to bleed blue.

“It’s so easy to forget that, even though we are here for school, we’re also here for the memories … and the fellowship,” Woodard said. “Homecoming is a time for us to put the books aside and let the world know that we are ‘GSU…GSU…G-A…S-T-A-T-E… State!’”

Hosted by the university-sponsored event coordinating committee, Spotlight Programs Board, the “Through the Looking Glass” Royal Ball took place at the Fernbank Museum of Natural History. It was another chance for students to define being a Panther and enjoy a carefree night in Wonderland.

Upon entering the Homecoming dance, Panthers were greeted by whimsical decorations that fit the theme. Attendees spent the evening dressed in their very best, dancing with the dinos of Fernbank and posing with props at the event’s photo booth. The evening had a slow start, but the room got a jolt of energy as people began to fill in the dance floor.

Destiny Elliott, Georgia State sophomore, said the night was all about feeling beautiful and carefree.

Photo by Unique Rodriguez | The Signal

“Midterms are over and it’s time for us to shine,” she said.

And shine they did—especially the Homecoming court. The candidates sparkled with confidence while making their way down a spiral staircase that led to the dance floor. They also shocked attendees with a surprise choreographed performance that took weeks of rehearsal.

Woodard said that the bonding experience was extremely rewarding, especially seeing the crowd’s reaction after countless hours of practice with her royal family.

Pawsitively Bleeding Blue

For all the candidates, bleeding blue was about coming together during Homecoming season and getting to know each other despite who gets crowned in the end.

“At the end of the day, we are all winners,” Anderson Dorvil, candidate for Mr. Blue and White said. “We all show school spirit and school pride and we all bleed blue and white. We push each other to do better and motivate each other. So it’s been a real family feel on the court, even though it’s a competition.”

Dorvil emphasized that part of showing school spirit is finding a way to get involved on campus as well.

Photo by Sophia Marchese | The Signal

“There is no excuse for not being involved on campus,” Dorvil said. “There are organizations that range from every letter in the alphabet. No matter how weird your niche is, I promise you there is something that relates to that.”

Being a Panther for the Homecoming court was much more than a sparkly crown and a shot at beating the Troy Trojans; it meant standing together in camaraderie in support of a university that is accepting of all walks of life.

Newly-crowned Mr. Georgia State Justin Adams said it was the different sides of the student body that made him fall in love with the university.

Photo by Sophia Marchese | The Signal

“I was a commuter at one point, lived on campus my sophomore year and got really involved,” Adams said. “Originally, I was planning on maybe transferring to UGA, but I just absolutely fell in love with this school and all the people here and the diverse student body.”

Temitope Ibisanmi, a Mr. Georgia State 2017 candidate, expressed his deepest gratitude for the blessings he’s be given to serve the university through leadership and activism and the bond he experienced from being on Homecoming court.

“It was a great time getting close to each other,” Ibisanmi said. “And to see how each and every one of us grew and developed in a matter of weeks was nothing short of breathtaking.”

When the winners were announced during Saturday’s Homecoming game, it was easy to see the friendship that blossomed within the royal court family over the last few weeks. They were all overflowing with happiness for each other, truly representing what it means to be a Panther during Homecoming season.

(Reminisce on Homecoming week with The Signal. Tweet your favorite memories to @GSUSignalAandL)

Downtown Homecoming Court 2017

Ms. Georgia State

  • Norae Woodard
  • Adriann Stinson
  • Odoyemi Fonville

Mr. Georgia State

  • Justin Adams
  • Temitope Ibisanmi
  • Ryan Martin

Ms. Blue & White

  • Asia Haywood
  • Pia Green
  • Kaylah Oates-Marable

Mr. Blue & White

  • Brandon Cain
  • Anderson Dorvil
  • Donnell Ray