School dances don't just happen; they take planning

Apr 9 2012 - 9:29am


Everyone loves high school dances, right? Shopping for those cute dresses (or picking out ties, if you're a guy), whispering about who's going to ask who, praying that your crush will ask you for a slow dance -- it's all part of the high school experience.

But does anyone ever think about the work that goes into planning these dances? The decorations hanging from the ceiling and the lights around the posts didn't appear by magic, and the balloons didn't blow themselves up. Some students might guess it's the teachers and administrators who take care of all this, but in most schools it's actually the student government.

At NUAMES, the student body officers are in charge of scheduling, advertising and decorating for dances, with help from faculty and staff.

During the summer, all of us officers had a meeting, so the dates for this year's dances were already set, but nothing else.

The junior class officers, which consist of me and two of my good friends, were in charge of the Valentine's Sadie Hawkins dance. We did almost everything, from reserving the venue (since our school has no gym) and designing and printing publicity, to selling tickets with the help of fellow officers and buying decorations and refreshments.

We also reserved the DJ and called the photographers.

It may sound like a lot of work, but planning a dance is one of those things where the result is worth all the hard work that goes into it.

A month before Sadie Hawkins, the planning officially began. What would our theme be? Who would make fliers, posters and arrows directing students to the atrium at the DATC, our venue? Should we have a play list or let the DJ play whatever he wanted?

After lots of debate over texts and a few class meetings, we had everything decided. Our theme was red, white and pink, a "sweethearts" theme.

Then came the technicalities, like the songs on the play list, the decorations, the candy and cookies and when to buy them, and choosing the background for the pictures.

After we'd found everything we could use at school and bought the rest of what we needed, there was nothing to do but wait for dance day to come.

Decorating started officially at 5 p.m., but in actuality it began earlier that day. Some officers had been filling balloons with helium, and then brought them to the DATC. From there, we started putting up lights, setting up tables, blocking the hallways so that students couldn't go down them, and sticking cardboard arrows into the ground so NUAMES kids could find the atrium.

One issue we had was finding a way to attach our heart decorations to the ceiling. We wanted to tie them to string and hang them, but the roof was too high. Finally, someone came up with the genius idea to tie two hearts or tissue paper flowers that were the same weight together with fishing line, and then fling one over the many bars that crisscrossed the ceiling.

At last, when all the decorating was done at 6:30 p.m., and I thought there was nothing left for me to do but enjoy the dance, our adviser handed me gift cards and T-shirts from a sponsor, telling me that I could give them out however I chose. I decided to let the administration choose who to give them to; it's not bad to delegate sometimes.

Then people started pouring in, the music started playing, and our photographer started taking pictures.

In the end, I thought our dance was a success. Almost everyone thought the play list was good, the atrium looked great, and there was almost no food left over.

I think the best part was having fun planning with my fellow officers and then getting to enjoy the end result with them.

The administrators and teachers, our student government adviser, and all the officers were amazing, and I want to thank them because there's no way we could have done it without each other.

So next time you go to a dance, think about how much work it must have taken to blow those balloons up, hang the decorations and choose the candy -- chocolate over taffy any day, right? -- and take some time to appreciate it.

Minna Wang is a junior at NUAMES. She loves to take pictures, go shopping and run. Email her at

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