The Freshman Frenzy: Latin’s Hoco Phenomenon


Hailey Kim

Lilly Clark ’23 and Charlie De Mey ’23

Written By Hailey Kim, Reporter

Hearing the enthusiastic shouting coming from the gazebo, sophomores and juniors look over in mild interest and the seniors simply roll their eyes. It was the freshmen, cheering for the boy holding a poster and a bag of candy, ready to ask a girl to homecoming. This “ask” triggered the official beginning of the phenomenon called the “freshman frenzy” at Charlotte Latin School.

For years the freshmen asking each other to homecoming has signaled the opening of the new school year as they’ve earned a reputation in the Upper School for staking their claim on dates very early. The buzz of who is asking whom begins way before school starts and can still be heard throughout the hallways even after the dance is over.

Gracie Gore ’23 and Jackson Slayton ’23

But why? Why is there such intense pressure on the freshmen? “I think it’s because of the expectations of homecoming,” Crawford Fisher, ‘23, said. Many incoming freshmen imagine homecoming as a romantic event where one dances the night away with his or her date. Pretty dresses, nice shoes and corsages make up the survival kit for homecoming. In an attempt to live up to the expectations set by the cute and elaborate asks posted on Instagram or Facebook, freshmen feel pressured to live up to that expectation. But the reality of the experience is very different. Upperclassmen realize that hoco is a place to party with friends rather than it being a fairy-tale magical night. “The only part that is romantic is when you do pictures and afterwards when you go to dinner,” Forrest William, ‘21, said. “Honestly, I could end the night there.”

The effort and thought that goes into the asks increases every year, and the process of inviting dates to homecoming progressively become more elaborate and creative. Having attended the dance multiple times, the upperclassmen realize that homecoming is an event that should be attended with a large group of friends, relieving the pressure of finding a date. The effort in the signs decreases noticeably. “You were lucky if you receive candy as an upperclassman.” William Hendrick, ‘20 said.

Crawford Fisher ’23 and Jackson Adams ’23

Many teachers know of the early freshmen asks and see it happening, but they do not seem aware the students have dubbed the phenomenon the “Freshman Frenzy” and find it amusing that the freshmen are so adamant about finding a date early on in the year. Chuck Edwards, chair of history and a Latin alumni, remembers the asks back in his days. “Nobody asked with posters or even in person. I have respect for the people that do it that way now,” Edwards said.

Over time this rite of passage into high school at Charlotte Latin evolved into a frenzied flurry of elaborate asks. But the night is more than just posters and Instagram posts—it is an opportunity for freshmen to stake their claim in the Upper School. “I feel like freshmen want acceptance—they want to fit in. Whereas when you’re older, you have found your friend group and you’re more comfortable,” Carter Barlow ‘20 said.

Homecoming allows freshmen to have a smoother transition into the Upper School; in participating in the frenzy, they can feel comfortable as a class and as a part of this social event. Freshman Teddy Warner ‘23, said, “I realized that hoco is just a place to have fun and momentarily forget all the drama happening in the outside world.”