High School’s First ‘WinFo’ Dance Yields Mixed Reactions

Students gathered in the gym for the Winter Semi-Formal dance. Photo by Catherine Dooley.

GDS hosted the inaugural Winter Semi-Formal dance on Saturday, Jan. 21, adding to the existing upperclassmen-only prom and informal homecoming. While some students appreciated the new event, others were underwhelmed.

Spirit Committee co-head junior Joey Wasserman sent an all-school email on Jan. 10 saying that GDS would hold the Winter Semi-Formal, or WinFo, from 8:30–11 p.m. The event would be open to all high school students.

The Student Staff Council (SSC) and Spirit Committee began planning the Winter Semi-Formal during the first semester. SSC President and senior Jacqueline Metzger said she had overheard people expressing desires for a formal winter dance during the beginning of the school year. To Metzger, the Winter Semi-Formal seemed like a great opportunity for SSC to foster inter-grade bonding, one of its goals for the year. 

The Spirit Committee and SSC worked with Assistant Principal for School Life Quinn Killy to plan the event. Killy said he heard from a few students wanting a semi-formal dance. They expressed disappointment that prom was the only formal dance and that it was only open to juniors and seniors.

After requests for the event, Spirit Committee co-heads Wasserman and senior Nora Smulson approached Killy and proposed a semi-formal dance. “I try to let the students drive it, and they’re the ones behind it,” Killy said. 

Smulson said that as the Spirit Committee planned the homecoming dance at the beginning of the year, students were disappointed by the dance’s informal dress code. The Spirit Committee was hesitant to make homecoming more formal because “it’s a GDS tradition not to have a formal homecoming, so we decided that we could have a different dance instead,” she said.

While the Spirit Committee focused on scheduling the Winter Semi-Formal, SSC worked on ticket sales and decorations—including setting up candles, fairy lights and balloons in the high school gym, where the event took place. “A lot went into it, and I hope that people are appreciative of it,” Metzger said.

Attendees had mixed feelings about the dance. Senior Ian Rothfeld said that he appreciated the opportunity “to be around people and to have a shared experience.”

Junior Rachel Schneider said that the middle of January was the perfect time for a dance, as spirits were low with an increase in schoolwork following winter break. “It was important that we had a little time off to just have fun and hang out with each other without the stresses of homework,” she said.

Rothfeld and Schneider both liked that the dance was formal. Rothfeld said that it was fun to see people dressed up.

Freshman Zoya Mghenyi said that the students at the Winter Semi-Formal were more energetic than at homecoming. “This DJ seems to be better in terms of playing songs that can get people active and excited,” she said.

Math teacher Amir Raza, one of the chaperones at the Winter Semi-Formal, expressed surprise at the music choice. “I would’ve expected more songs that were current and more hip-hop, as opposed to what I heard at the dance, which was a lot of older songs and a lot of European techno songs from ten years ago,” Raza said.

Schneider said that she disliked the music at the dance. “It was too loud for me to have conversations with people,” she said, and “the music wasn’t good enough for me to dance.” Schneider added that she preferred spending time with friends before and after the dance rather than at the event itself.

Two of the six students interviewed for the Bit commented on the brevity of the dance, as many attendees began to leave at about 10 p.m.

According to Killy, GDS previously hosted a winter dance six or seven years ago, but not many people attended. Ultimately, administrators decided to not continue hosting the dance due to small turnouts, high costs and the amount of work involved with its planning.

Killy said that the Winter Semi-Formal was a success, with about 400 tickets sold. “If it’s something that students feel like we want to do again next year,” he said that he would be open to hosting the event next school year.

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