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Homecoming -- For Local Yokels

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I am incredulous that Centreville, Westfield and Chantilly High Schools are all in the Top 5. It is inscrutable and amazing to me that the high schools in the far western suburbs of the one-million-population Fairfax County are in the Washington Post's Top Five in Metro football rankings in our Washington, D.C. region. In fact, Centreville HS is number two, Westfield HS is number four and Chantilly HS (where my son attends and plays JV) is number five against perennial powerhouses. All three schools are at 5-0 records and begin conference play next week. We'll see which school's dominance holds up.

When I was a junior at Langley High School, Chantilly HS had just graduated its first class of four years. We thought Chantilly was truly the end of the earth, the teams a bunch of country yokels, as our team travelled by bus out Route 50 before I-66 was even paved. Westfield was only built a few years ago here. How can it be that Centreville just whipped Hayfield -- a school in Alexandria with former glory days in my era? Westfield shut out once-viral Fairfax HS seven touchdowns to zip. Chantilly on Friday night beat Edison, also of Alexandria, 70 to 29. The game was even more lopsided than the score shows.

Remember the Titans is the popular movie memorializing the integration of TC Williams HS in Alexandria in the 1970s and the resultant building of a team. The football team was a metaphor for the school and the Washington region itself where racial tensions still ran high. In fact, race "riots" or really fights after ballgames were pretty commonplace 40 years ago.

Today, it is all upside down. Edison showed up with about 25 football players, barely enough to field an offensive and defensive squad. Chantilly carries 60 kids on its roster. Edison brought along 50 parents and Chantilly's homecoming saw thousands of fans and families. From a demographer's viewpoint, Western Fairfax County is the new titan. And integration is probably the greatest reason for its success on the field and in the classroom: with Asian and Hispanic families joining White and Black and building real communities of new immigrants. Many of the students are second generation kids whose parents immigrated and English is a second language. Somehow it harmonizes on the football field and in the stands. Parents are all involved. Politicians sweep the parking lots for new voters this local election year. Food stands on the tennis courts have cuisines from around the globe.

A homecoming usually connotes that one has been "away" and is returning. But I love the fall season and reunions among those of us who never really left. It reminds one of the phrase: "How Can I Miss You When You Won't Even Leave?" In fact, the Langley-ites of 35 years ago, the class of 1976, will have a celebration over the next two weeks on Oct. 14-15. For some of us, it has been a gradual change now stark in contrast to our own times. For those coming back from out of state, a major Awakening is about to happen.