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 North Farmington High School staff members Allison Case, left, and Dawn Morse participate in the senior photo ID day by dressing up as Elmo and Cookie Monster.

North Farmington High School staff members Allison Case, left, and Dawn Morse participate in the senior photo ID day by dressing up as Elmo and Cookie Monster.

Photo by Kendra Montante

NFHS senior picture day goes beyond online fame to cultivate class bonding

By: Jonathan Shead | Farmington Press | Published September 24, 2019

 Thomas Yousif holds a quote from the TV show “Spongebob Squarepants.”

Thomas Yousif holds a quote from the TV show “Spongebob Squarepants.”

Photo by Kendra Montante

 Kayla Woodard dresses up as Prince.

Kayla Woodard dresses up as Prince.

Photo by Kendra Montante

FARMINGTON HILLS — North Farmington High School’s acclaimed senior picture day returned to action this year with a whole new set of seniors showcasing their most creative selves by cosplaying pop culture characters, memes and more.

Dillon Sharp, a senior at NFHS this year who dressed as Ferris Bueller, said he’s been thinking about who to dress as since his freshman year.

“That whole time I was thinking about what I should do, and it got closer and closer. Eventually, my whole family was trying to help me figure it out, and my mom said I looked just like Ferris Bueller, so I had to watch the movie, and it ended up working perfectly,” Sharp said.

As the senior IDs have continued to grow in popularity online each year, especially on platforms like Twitter, where some students this year received up to 50,000 likes for their photos, Sharp said the pressure to think of something creative is immense.

“Of course, everyone wants to blow up on Twitter and have that 15 minutes of fame,” Sharp said. “The weeks leading up to picture day are insane. Everyone is trying to figure out who they are and get their costumes set up and everything.”

NFHS Principal Joe Greene said he’s “overjoyed and proud” of his students for freely expressing themselves each year through this opportunity, and he finds all the positive feedback received online flattering, but he said the day fosters more than fun for the students who participate.

Amidst all the chaos of trying to find the best costume and vying for the most likes online is a budding sense of community, creativity and positive culture, Greene said.

“I think this is something that captures the spirit and culture of our school — a place where we really believe in student leadership, and we believe in students finding their voice and power in the world — and I think this is a great visual representation of a lot of what we try to accomplish with the young adults we’re entrusted with,” he said.

Greene said the students don’t take for granted the trust given to them to do this.

“They recognize it’s a privilege. They don’t mess around with it. They don’t even really try to press the boundaries or the principles we’ve had guiding them, because they want to make sure that they can carry this on,” he said. “They really take a lot of joy from it, and our alums wait for this day and have a blast with it. They kind of challenge and cheer on each class.”

Since this trend started six years ago, Greene said, there aren’t too many rules and regulations that could stifle the students’ creativity. There are three primary rules:

• Students can’t cover their eyes with sunglasses or a mask. If they do, they have to still be recognizable.

• Students can’t dress in any way that might be construed as taking on the skin tone of another race. If they do use color on their face, they’re required to use multiple colors.

• Overall, students must make sure their cosplay ideas are safe for school consumption.

Greene said he’s personally there every picture day at the front of the line to provide one last check over each student’s costume. He’s only had to turn away five students in the last six years.

Beyond creating a unique culture at the school, Greene said he’s seen this trend bring the senior class together and allow students to bond in more ways than one.

“They get to see their creativity, and they recognize the value and humor and joy they can bring forward with that, so I think they bring that into their future interactions with their classmates,” Greene said. “They start to come to more events together and in larger numbers. They start to really collaborate and cooperate for class events. It unifies them very well, and I think, ultimately, it just gets the kids to see each other … (and) how wonderfully powerful and amplified individuals can become when they’re part of the collective of their class.”

Greene said he knows he eventually has to get involved somehow. This year he’s planning on working with the junior class, which will participate next year, to come up with a costume for himself, though he doesn’t want his participation to overshadow the real importance: his students.

Greene hopes his students simply continue to find joy in being a part of it.

If the online feedback received so far is any indicator, the rest of the world hopes this trend continues as well.

Check out more of the students’ costumes and cosplay ideas on Twitter.