Homecoming has two purposes. 1) Supposidly it is when graduated kids (alumni) come back to visit their HS. 2) Spirit week/students "kicking off" the new year and bonding with their class.
The climax of homecoming is the homecoming parade, the football game, and the dance...which at our school is saturday morning, afternoon, and evening. All week leading up to it there are all kinds of special events (Spirit week). We have a hall decorating contest (each class has their own floor to decorate with a theme), we have crazy hat day, we have battle of the classes, PJ day, a pep rally and bonfire, and a few other random events. Then the last day is the parade through our town from Village Hall to the HS, then the football game (usually against one of our rivals), and then the dance (semi-formal, open to all students and "young alumni").
All I can say is that its a freakin blast...probably my favorite week of school all year. I have a little role in planning a lot of the events since I'm on Student Council.
Now prom is at the end of the year. We have 2 proms...Junior Prom and Senior Prom. Junior prom is about a month before school ends and is restricted to juniors and their dates only. Senior prom is between finals and graduation and is restricted to seniors and their dates only. Some smaller schools combine junior and senior proms into one. You don't have to have a date, and many people go alone or with friends. Junior prom is usually at a local catering place, and we have to go by coach bus from our school to prom and back (in the past people were spending way too much money on junior prom, so if you only have to go from your house to school, there is no reason for anyone to drop money on a limo...also, liability concerns with people driving). Senior prom is much fancier. We usually have ours at the Marriott Marquis in Times Square (NYC), everyone hires limos to take them there, and its a big event/big deal with all kinds of before parties and after parties and staying in hotels in NYC after prom is over and yeah...exciting! I'm very much looking forward to my senior prom.
Oh, and part of Battle of the classes is stuff like relay races and sports stuff including some conditioning contests and you see whichever class does the best. Lets just say that my class always has its gymnasts do the conditioning contests and they always dominate bigtime!