StuCo to host semi-formal, Saturday night winter homecoming dance

This is the first year the school has had a Saturday night winter homecoming dance since 2012


Spreading Mod Podge on a lantern, senior Bella Hadden makes a planet on Sunday, Jan. 28 that will be used for decoration at WOCO.

Alison Booth and Lexi Flipse

Students will flood into the space-decorated, dimly lit commons and gym on Saturday, Feb. 10 with peers dressed in semi-formal dancewear in preparation for this year’s winter homecoming dance. This scene is a huge contrast to the past six winter homecoming dances, all of which were held as informal, Friday night events.

Prior to 2012, winter homecoming was deemed “WPA” (women pay all) and was hosted by the cheer and dance teams. However, in 2012, administration changed the Saturday dance to a Friday night dance that occurred after the night’s basketball game.

According to StuCo sponsor Erica Cris the Friday dance has “never been well attended,” even though StuCo has “tried different activities and events [at the dance] in the years past.”

However, according to student body president Bella Hadden, in the past two years, students have expressed interest in changing the informal Friday dance into a semi-formal dance.

“StuCo did an online poll [in early 2017] about what students wanted to see at Mill Valley, and the biggest response was having a more formal winter dance on a Saturday,” Hadden said.

Previous StuCo members had been frustrated with the lack of a semi-formal winter homecoming, including 2017 student body president Brady Rolig. Rolig felt it was “embarrassing” the school didn’t have a third dance since other area schools (like De Soto High School, Shawnee Mission schools and Olathe schools) did.

“The Friday night dance was lame,” Rolig said via email. “I loved being on StuCo and going to all the events we put on, but I could barely stand going to the Friday night dance for more than 15 minutes. I think a Saturday night dance is much better because people will go out to eat, take pictures and do all the normal dance stuff.”

In order to get the Saturday dance approved by administration, StuCo members contacted these local schools that put on more formal winter dances and assembled a presentation of the feedback they received.

“A lot of the StuCo members that graduated last year emailed schools and got information about what schools around us do for winter homecoming,” Hadden said. “We took all that into consideration and put it into a PowerPoint and presented it to administration.”

According to assistant principal Marilyn Chrisler, this presentation was a huge factor in helping bring a third dance to the school.

“Kids have been approaching us over the last couple years and finally, in spring of 2017, StuCo presented their reasons why they wanted to have a third dance,” Chrisler said. “Our biggest concern was the cost — a lot of people think that they have to spend a lot of money on dresses and tuxedos and stuff like that, [but StuCo] said that it didn’t have to be officially formal — kids could wear whatever they wanted. It was a very good, well put-together presentation from the kids.”

I loved being on StuCo and going to all the events we put on, but I could barely stand going to the Friday night dance for more than 15 minutes.

— 2017 student body president Brady Rolig

According to Crist, the dance is being deemed winter homecoming (or WOCO, for short) instead of WPA to help cultivate inclusivity.

“It’s more like a homecoming; it’s not a WPA,” Crist said. “We don’t want girls to think they have to ask a guy or guys to think they can’t ask a girl. Or, if you have same-sex couples, they can attend.”

Moreover, Crist said the dance is defined as semi-formal rather than formal, since StuCo wants to alleviate the financial burden that may accompany the addition of a new dance.

“I think StuCo members have been describing it as if you’ve ever been to a Cheerball or a banquet attire — that way, students aren’t spending as much on dresses,” Crist said. “We really encourage students to wear things that are already in their closet or to exchange items with friend. You don’t need to go out and spend money on a brand new dress for this dance.”

Senior Julia Feuerborn is excited for the dance, and said it will hopefully be “less awkward” than the past Friday dances since there will be “a lot more people,” making it “easier to dance and have fun.”

“It’s something that’s been talked about since my freshman year and it’s actually happening my senior year so that’s really cool,” Feuerborn said. “I just wish it would have happened earlier so I could have gone to it more.”

However, Hadden said that the success of the dance this year will determine the recurrence of future WOCOs.

“Administration has said that we’re going to try it for this year, and if it’s a bad turn out and not busy, then they won’t do it again,” Hadden said. “So, we’re trying really hard to make sure it’s a success.”

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