Where are the School Dances?


Prom 2021 taken by Roya Azar (’21)

Zach Pearson, Sports Editor

Every school year, there are videos and photos everywhere on social media of high school students across the country at their school dances. Whether it’s posts about homecoming kings and queens, people showing off their unique outfits to themed dances, or adorable prom-posals, everybody has at least seen one. With homecoming season having come and gone, Harrison High School students have felt mostly left out of these festivities. It is known that Harrison only hosts one dance during the school year, Senior Prom, but why don’t we host other dances throughout the school year, as well?

Prom wasn’t always the only dance hosted at Harrison High School. There was actually a Winter Ball until several years ago. According to Harrison High School Principal Kimberly Beukema, the Student Advisory Board funded this winter-themed dance up until about four years ago. At that point, she said, only about forty students attended the dance, and it was discontinued. Assistant Principal Laurie Griffo noted that there were multiple logistical issues with the winter themed dance, as well. The dance would be scheduled for January, inherently bringing weather concerns. One year the weather caused the Winter Ball to become a “Spring Fling,” but it was not well advertised and didn’t have a large turn out. Mrs. Griffo noted, however, that in the first two years the dance existed (2013 and 2014) it was very popular.

A large component of how dances take place is the months of preparation that occur all throughout the school year. Take for example, Senior Prom, which is organized by the Senior Class Officers and Senior Class Advisors. In addition to all the planning decisions that need to be made, they touch base frequently with school Administration to ensure that the planning process is going smoothly. Funding is arguably the most important aspect of prom planning. Ms. Beukema says that, “…the Senior class raises the funds. A great deal is raised from the auction they have during their Junior year.  In addition, if the previous year’s Senior class has a remaining fund balance at the end of the year, they often make a donation to the rising Senior class.  An effort is made to keep the ticket cost affordable for students.” Additionally, finding a location to host prom is always challenging because of how many kids usually attend. 

Mrs. Griffo noted that the Surf Club in New Rochelle is one of the, “…few venues that can accommodate our needs as far as size goes. When I first started, it was very tight, and now since class sizes have gotten bigger, we had to find a larger venue.” 

This process sounds complicated, but it was even more complicated in 2021 trying to plan the Prom while following COVID guidelines. Mrs. Griffo emphasized that New York State COVID protocols would frequently change, and that the Administration had to start planning Prom earlier in the school year than in previous years. As Prom grew closer, the planning team would use “…whatever guidance (from the state) that we had, and we would try and fine tune it.” By all accounts, the fine tuning worked beautifully, and Senior Prom 2021 was very successful. 

Even though Winter Formal no longer occurs, it wasn’t because the Administration canceled it. Mrs. Griffo states that, “It was not admin that did away with the dance, it was the students… that didn’t want to continue the dances. We liked the dances. We liked to have students have an opportunity to come together and be able…to spend a Friday evening and do something fun as a high school community.” Additionally, Mrs. Griffo shared that a few years ago, the Student Advisory Board sent out a survey to students about school dances. Unfortunately the responses came back showing that there was very little interest. However, the Student Advisory Board was then trying to find another event that would replace the dance, such as a movie night on the field. Nothing became of that idea. 

With regards to homecoming at Harrison High School, when asked whether the Administration would be open to a dance, Mrs. Griffo says that they would but, “We would have to really work with the student body and Athletics.” Mrs. Griffo noted that Harrison-Rye week and the Harrison-Rye game take the place of a homecoming, since it includes all of Spirit Week and the pep rally the night before the game. Homecoming would be a logistical process, necessitating planning starting the spring before, but the Administration is open to it and is also open to all different types of dances. “We’re open to ideas,” states Mrs. Griffo.

Students at Harrison have voiced their opinion in support of a new dance. When asked if he would be in support of a new school dance, freshman Brady Ross thinks that it, “Would be a great idea because it gives young people a chance to develop their social skills, while enjoying what they’re doing.” Sophomore Benji Peligi thinks similarly, claiming that, “I would really enjoy a winter themed dance because it would be a cool way to go into holiday break. Also, as someone who isn’t a senior, I feel like other grades should be included so people don’t feel left out.” 

Although Harrison only has Senior Prom, other schools host Junior-Senior proms. Junior Hannah Rose thinks that she, “…would love to have a Junior Prom because it would be a chance for not only friends but the entire grade to get together and have a great time.” The Seniors this year won’t be able to experience any sort of new dances, but when asked whether she would have liked to see any dances other than Prom, senior Milly Wong says that she, “…would like to see more types of school dances other than Prom for example maybe for certain holidays or seasons like a winter formal or a homecoming dance.” Another senior, Kacy Espitita, thinks similarly, saying that she wished she had a dance where the whole school got to participate, saying that she, “…would’ve liked the chance to spend time with my peers outside of the classroom and dances would have been a nice addition.” 

All in all, if more students were to advocate for and be willing to work on new dances, Administration would be more than happy to help organize them. If you feel strongly about the addition of a new school dance, reach out to the Student Advisory Board so they can advocate for possible fundraising. A new dance would take around a year of planning, but now would be the best time to start thinking of possible ideas for a new dance. Hopefully Harrison gets to see one in the coming years, and it all starts with students advocating for one.