Ellie Morton, left, reacts with classmate Madison Juhl to being named homecoming queen Friday night at Clemens Field. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

Philomath High’s homecoming queen expressed excitement about always having a special memory from her senior year. And the homecoming king, well, he plans to follow through on a promise to dye his hair.

Sophomore Ben McGovern and senior Ellie Morton were announced as the PHS king and queen during halftime festivities at Friday night’s Warriors football game at Clemens Field.

“Our class wanted to see my hair dyed, so I guess they voted for me,” McGovern said. “I made a deal with them that if I win, I’ll dye my hair.”

So what color will it be?

“Pink,” said McGovern, who paused, shared an almost nervous laugh and followed up with, “Yeah.”

During announcer David Dunham’s introduction of the candidates, McGovern received one of the largest cheers.

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“I like being in front of a crowd … It’s fun to see people cheering for me and to get a crown on my head,” McGovern said.

Morton has been involved in the school’s royal-themed activities as an underclassman. 

“It’s been a pretty interesting process,” she said moments after posing for photos to capture the occasion. “I’ve been in the homecoming runners-up … this is pretty surprising.”

The process to choose a king and queen involves a series of votes by students. The freshman, sophomore and junior classes each had two finalists and the senior class had four finalists. They all arrived at Clemens Field on the track in front of the home grandstands riding on floats that had been designed for the parade that took place earlier in the day.

Finalists included freshmen Nathaniel McKeever and Nora Stanley, sophomores Abigail Harwood and McGovern, juniors Warwick Bushnell and Kaylie Kohler, and seniors Nadia Durski, Casimir Gurski, Madison Juhl and Morton.

Philomath High’s homecoming royal court finalists included, from left, Ellie Morton, Madison Juhl, Casimir Gurski, Nadia Durski, Kaylie Kohler, Warwick Bushnell, Ben McGovern, Abigail Harwood, Nathaniel McKeever and Nora Stanley. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

“I like the school spirit, everyone is having fun,” Morton said about homecoming week. “In regular day-to-day, some people are super cautious about what they wear because they think they’re going to get judged but during homecoming, we have spirit week, everyone’s going crazy with their outfits and it’s just a lot of fun.”

McGovern’s favorite activities revolve around the traditional midweek celebration, pancakes and football, a sport that he competes in.

“Powder-puff’s always a lot of fun, you know, watching the girls play football and getting to coach and cheerleading — I cheerled myself,” McGovern said. “And pancakes in the morning are good, too, we did that, and the game’s always fun.”

The process to choose homecoming royalty has gone through a few changes in recent years. Last year for the first time, the student body chose two monarchs with Janice Hellesto and Elizabeth Morales-Marquez earning those distinctions. And this year, a homecoming king represented a new twist.

Hellesto and Morales-Marquez were on hand Friday night to pass the crowns on to the king and queen.

Abigail Harwood and Ben McGovern ride into halftime homecoming activities aboard the sophomore disco-themed float. (Photo by Andy Cripe/Philomath News)

McGovern rode in on the sophomore’s “Disco Boogie” float.

“The theme this year is disco and we had a nice frame with a lot of help from people in my class and the community to help build it and help decorate it — and it turned out great,” McGovern said. “We got disco-themed stuff together and it all worked out … it looked good.”

The senior float seemed appropriate for homecoming week, which ended with warm temperatures.

“There were so many different ideas,” Morton said. “We were going to do Barbie and then the Minions, but the people who came to build the float only had some beach stuff. So at the last minute, we did a beach thing. It was a long process to figure it out.”

Homecoming week wrapped up Saturday night with a student dance.

Brad Fuqua has covered the Philomath area since 2014 as the editor of the now-closed Philomath Express and currently as publisher/editor of the Philomath News. He has worked as a professional journalist since 1988 at daily and weekly newspapers in Nebraska, Kansas, North Dakota, Arizona, Montana and Oregon.