When Grain Valley High School activities director Brandon Hart and principal Jeremy Plowman made the walk from the high school campus to Moody Murray Football Field Wednesday evening, they hoped for the best.

For the first time in school history, members of student council and administrators voted to have a community wide pep rally at the high school, rather than the traditional parade during homecoming week.

The Eagles take on longtime Missouri River Valley West opponent Odessa at 7 p.m., Friday.

“We’d been involved in the Grain Valley Fair Daze parade and everyone seemed to have a parade ... within the last month, and we felt like people were ‘paraded’ out,” quipped Hart, who hoped to see the stands full of fans waiting for the start of the pep rally.

He and Plowman were not disappointed as the home stands were full and overflowed into community residents lining the fence to the north of the football stadium.

“That’s what we were hoping for,” Lipman said. “If we came down here and it was empty, well, I think we’d have had a parade next year.”

There was a real energy at the high school pep rally as Reid Atkinson’s award winning marching band opened the festivities with its 2017 competitive performance.

“Something like this allows us to perform for a new audience,” Atkinson said. “A lot of the people here tonight might not have seen us perform at a football game, and we were all excited about that. We’re proud of our band and want to share it with everyone.”

Hart was quick to add, “The members of the football team don’t get to see the performance, either, because they’re in the locker room at halftime. I heard a lot of the players talking about how much they enjoyed it.”

Members of all fall teams – including coach David Allie’s Eagles football team – had the opportunity to visit with members of the community.

The award-winning cheer and dance teams performed and members of the homecoming court arrived in convertibles and greeted the crowd at the 50-yard line.

“That was something that was very important to all of us – honoring the homecoming king and queen candidates – and this was the perfect way to do it,” the principal said. “This way, all the moms and dads and grandmas and grandpas can get all the photos they want, just like they could get in a parade.”

The night ended on a high note as Captain Fleet and the Scallywags, a teacher-based four-man rock group that included assistant girls basketball coach and music teacher Troy Spradley on acoustic guitar, Eric Van Fleet, a Spanish teacher on electric guitar; Jim Roberts, an English teacher on drums; and Patrick Carr, an English teacher on bass, sang Van Morrison’s “Brown Eyed Girl,” Tom Petty’s “Free Fallin’ ” and Neil Diamond’s anthem “Sweet Caroline.”

Students grabbed their cell phones, sang along with the band and swayed back and forth during each song, and youngsters in the stands danced joyously during the pep rally’s heartfelt finale.

“Forty years from now,” quipped Hart, sporting an ear-to-ear grin, “people are going to be able to tell their grandkids they were there for the first performance by Captain Fleet and the Scallywags – and our first community pep rally.”

As Plowman watched the crowd cheer and walk to the parking lot, he sported the confident look of a man who had enjoyed a job well done.

“I think we’ll do it again next year,” he said, “yeah, we’re definitely going to do it again next year.”