Winter Formal: A Resurrection After a Five-Year Hiatus

Gracie Chung

On December 3, 2016, HKIS held its first Winter Formal in five years at the Middle School gym. Complete with a DJ, Christmas decorations, and catering by Castelo Concepts, the gym was buzzing with 175 students from different grades, though they were mostly freshmen and sophomores. Around 15 to 20 seniors attended the Winter Formal.
According to Samy Morton (11), the Senator of Student Life, the Winter Formal at HKIS was discontinued a couple years ago due to “a lack of numbers and enthusiasm from students.”
Morton wanted to revive the Winter Formal this year in response to some peers’ suggestions to bring back the Winter Formal. She also wanted to hold an event open to all grades that would include underclassmen.
There are many positive reviews on the Winter Formal for the DJ and the food.  In addition, many people appreciate the fact that the Winter Formal stands as a long-standing tradition for many other APAC schools and therefore, feel that it should be reintroduced to HKIS.
Class Officer Christopher Shim (11) says, “A lot of international schools, a lot of the APAC schools, have Winter Formals. It’s like an established tradition for them, so I think it’s nice HKIS is doing it again this year. It would also be a nice opportunity for underclassmen to get to know one another, and also for the juniors to get to know them.”
Class Officer Sophia Naqvi (10) explains, “I’m here because I’d like to see how the class is benefiting from our Senate. I think it’s a good idea to hold the Winter Formal because there aren’t any events for students from all grades. There’s only prom for upperclassmen. It’s good to have it there for people who do want to have this type of community event to be able to participate [in].”
“It’s really fun. I like the fact that underclassmen are bonding,” Emma Bisgaard (10) yells over the music.
Even those initially less enthusiastic about the event were impressed with the Formal this year.
Daniel Sheremeta (9) says, “Although I initially had some apprehensions about going to the Winter Formal because the hangouts were honestly not very fun in the Middle School—we got locked in and couldn’t leave early—I was pleasantly surprised by the overall quality of the event. It was very well-organized, and the food and music were both excellent.”
Even though many were satisfied with the event, there were still points for improvement.
Senate ExCo Treasurer Maxwell Sheremeta (11) mentions the slight miscommunication regarding the food served at the Formal. He adds, “This is more coming from what I've heard from others, but I know a lot of people would have preferred a full buffet because it was hard to eat from the platters and dance at the same time with nowhere to sit.”
Presiding Officer Ben Huang (12) suggests that in order to attract more upperclassmen, “the event could be moved to before Chinese New Year in January instead of December.”  He comments that “many of [his] upperclassmen friends felt that they were too busy to attend, given that the Formal occurred around a stressful time of college apps, summatives, and standardized testing.”
Still, the overwhelming sentiment has been that the Winter Formal should continue for years to come.
“Anything that brings people in our school together around fun and good memories ought to be preserved,” Maxwell Sheremeta adds.
Huang explains, “Although there may have been few bonds formed... between members of each grade directly resulting from the Winter Formal, the event contributed to the overall High School spirit, and that helps to create a sense of inter-grade community. People who attended the Winter Formal certainly felt like they were a part of the greater High School.”
Jonathan Chung (11) echoes a similar opinion, “[the Formal] reminded me of the middle school dances at my old school, TAS… I'm really happy for Samy and the Winter Formal committee that it went so well, and thank them for the hard work they put into the event.” Overall, he notes, “It was a great event and would be a really nice tradition to have at our school. It contributes to the Christmas spirit and helps bring people together to celebrate the completion of the first semester.”
According to Ms. Taylor, one reason for the success of the Winter Formal this year, especially in contrast to the waning participation from students five years ago, was that the Winter Formal of past used to be an event run by the junior class. This year, however, it was a Senate-run event, which rendered it an all-school event rather than just the eleventh grade sponsoring it. Another reason is simply time. She says, “If you let something go for a while, then people have no memory of it, and the Winter Formal [from five years ago] had been happening for a very, very long time, and there was less and less attendance… Sometimes if you put something away for a while, and then bring it back again, it seems fresh and new.”
The Winter Formal this year was met with overwhelmingly positive reviews, and the HKIS Senate and students look forward to next year’s event with even greater anticipation.