A fanciful Blacktip tasseled nudibranch (Bomella blacktipius) is part of the decoration for this weekend’s Blacktip Island High School homecoming festivities. The school’s teal-and-pink colors were inspired by the nudibranch, the BIHS mascot, found only on Blacktip Island reefs. (photo courtesy of Doris Blenny)
The Blacktip Island High School Fighting Nudibranchs will celebrate their 143nd homecoming on land and sea this weekend to honor students and alumni of the Caribbean island’s sole secondary school.
“It’s an exciting schedule we have planned,” homecoming chair Doris Blenny said. “We kick things off tonight with the spirit rally, the beach bonfire and the crowning of the homecoming court.
“Saturday’s the parade, then the offshore hand-line fishing tournament against arch rival Tiperon High, followed by a formal dance in the evening. School spirit’s sweeping the island.”
Locals of all ages said homecoming brings the community closer.
“I tear up just thinking about fishing against those cheating Tiperon High Frigates back in the day,” BIHS Class of 1981 alumni Antonio Fletcher said. “Proud we still go head-to-head with the big boys instead of bringing in some patsy to beat.
“I do love seeing the school colors flying all over the island, too,” Fletcher said. “And when they burn that paper mache frigate at the bonfire, folks go wild.”
The highlight for many will be the crowning of the king and queen.
“We only have one senior this year,” Blenny said. “Well, one student, period, so the voting was fairly predictable. It was Rusty Goby or no one.
“We set precedent, though, when the voters decided it wasn’t right to have just a king,” Blenny said. “They named Rusty king and queen. And to fill out the court, we’ll have iguanas with ribbons around their necks, and some of them wearing lipstick.”
Goby echoed Blenny’s enthusiasm.
“It’s a double honor, believe you me,” he said. “And appropriate, frankly, since nudibranchs are both male and female. For the homecoming court’s dance, I’ll do a sea slug-themed Viennese waltz to Billy Idol’s ‘Dancing With Myself.’
“It’ll be an exhausting few days, but well worth it,” Goby said. “The pep rally and bonfire and parade and the fishing tourney then the dance. I mean, I won’t be able to sneak a beer, or a smoke behind the gym, until everything’s over.”
Some alumni downplayed the celebration.
“I’m happy for Rusty and all, but a Blacktip homecoming can be a bit underwhelming after you’ve been through a few,” said BIHS Class of 1993 alumni Wendy Beaufort. “I mean,the parade’s usually just Dermott Bottoms bicycling past the resorts with an MP3 player blasting salsa music.”
Blenny defended the perceived lack of spirit.
“We’re a tiny school, all right?” she said. “We’ve tried bringing back famous alumni, but we couldn’t find any. Besides Jack Cobia, our mayor, but he’s locked up on a drunk driving charge.
“Frankly, the tailgating’s where Nudibranch spirit really bursts out,” Blenny said. “You want to see spirited celebration, check out the Sand Spit parking lot Saturday afternoon. Especially if Rusty can make it three in a row against those rat-bastard Frigates.”