Rochelle Kirksy, an elementary school health nurse, yelled at a group of Proviso East dancers who were stepping sprightly down Washington Boulevard in Maywood last Saturday morning during the high school’s annual Homecoming Parade.

“I almost missed it,” said Kirksy, who noted that she rushed out of her home when she heard sirens and the commotion of a high-octane procession — complete with a fire engine, a motorcade of motorcycles, exotic cars and a royal float — which stretched for several blocks.

“This is the highlight of my day,” Kirksy said. “I come every year. Those are my girls. Many of them went to Irving.”

Danika Murray, 22, walked her 3-year-old daughter alongside the parade, hoping that her own past would be her daughter’s prologue.

“This is amazing,” Murray said. “I used to be in the drum line before I graduated in 2012. I played the cymbals.”

For top District 209 administrators like Proviso East Principal Patrick Hardy and D209 Supt. Jesse Rodriguez, this year’s parade marked the dawning of a new era — one encapsulated by the phrase, ‘One Proviso.’

For perhaps the first time in the history of Proviso East homecoming, the Proviso West Marching Band participated in the parade.

In addition, Hardy noted, many more extracurricular clubs were represented in this year’s parade than in years past.

“We went from five clubs and activities at Proviso East when I first got here to over 21 clubs and organizations right now because we’re trying to grow and give our kids a chance to get connected to the school,” Hardy said.

“A lot more of those are participating,” he said. “You’ll even see members of our Anime Club, which has never participated before. So there’s a lot more school pride and spirit this year.”

That school pride, Rodriguez noted, is the most pointed he’s ever encountered, before complimenting the district’s “happy community and engaged staff.”

“This is my first [parade] experience here in Proviso and even though we do these types of activities in Milwaukee, the pride here is different,” Rodriguez said. “It’s a different feeling.”

Homecoming King Devin Booth, a 17-year-old senior from Maywood, was basking in the morning glory of that Pirate feeling. His was of the vindicating sort.

“I ran my sophomore year and lost, but this year I ran and got king,” said Booth. “My whole family went to East, so they’re ecstatic.”

CONTACT: michael@oakpark.com