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The Westminster Bi-Line

Homecoming: formal or informal

On Oct. 5, Westminster hosted its annual homecoming dance on Love patio. The informal dance sported the theme “Barbenheimer,” which stirred a sea of pink shirts and black jackets, and even a few PDC dresses as clothing attire. Regardless, the 2023 homecoming dance seemed quite normal to Westminster students, as one of the many informal homecomings the school has organized. The dance felt very normal to many of my classmates and me, until, recently, I spoke with a friend from Campbell High School who said she was shocked to hear how casual our dance was, especially since the option to dress informally was chosen by the majority of the school. Furthermore, the fact that our dance was on a Thursday, instead of the typical Friday, was shocking to her. It was then that I realized how different Westminster’s homecoming dance was, and it made me begin to question why. 

Perhaps the informality was to lessen the stress of finding the perfect outfit to wear. Intrigued, I began to dig into why informal homecoming has become the school’s norm, changing a much esteemed high school tradition. As a junior, it seems that my three years in high school have been spent oscillating around formal and informal homecomings. Freshman year? Informal. Sophomore year? Formal. This year? Informal. I wonder if next year will be formal just to continue the trend. Regardless, despite students’ ability to choose the formality of the dance, it seems as if almost every school, whether public or private, all require a formal homecoming dance. These students may not have a choice of wearing a T-shirt or a dress, yet, unsurprisingly, most high schoolers seem satisfied with the formal attire. In my opinion, it isn’t difficult to see why. From brainstorming creative homecoming proposals that cleverly adhere to a person’s name, wearing themed costumes assigned to each day of the week, or even matching dresses with ties and making plans for the homecoming game, a certain craze and energy seems to stem from the concept of homecoming. 

Perhaps this reflects the culture and age of media that we live in. Homecoming is on full display in movies, TV shows, and in the media; it’s safe to say that it bears a large presence in the lives of teens in the age where social media acts as an almost security blanket. In fact, when you look up #Homecoming on the social media app TikTok, over 9.5 billion results pop up. I began to think about the commercialization of homecoming, starting with homecoming movies and their grand impact on coming of age movies in film. Movies like Spider-Man: Homecoming as well as A Cinderella Story, arguably two popular movies that circulated throughout Gen Z’s childhood, use the event of the homecoming dance as a major point in the movie’s storyline. From worrying about the right dress, date, or even proposal, the craze over the homecoming dance throughout these movies seem to mirror the craze over homecoming in real life. However, as shown by two-thirds of the time I have spent in high school, times are changing: perhaps students (and in this case specifically Westminster students) just don’t want to deal with the stress and complications that homecoming seems to bring.

When asked her opinion of homecoming and if she would prefer formal or informal Elana Gardner said, “Well I guess informal because from my experience homecoming for us has been naturally informal. It’s not like it’s established as PD or as important or cared about as prom. No one is really asked out, and it’s on a random Thursday. At this point, it might as well be informal.”

I asked another friend, Amanda Glidden, about her opinion of homecoming: formal or informal. Glidden answered quite concisely, “Formal if Westminster has a real budget.” 

And while my friends foster pretty nonchalant answers about homecoming, I also had the chance to speak to sophomore Sasha Sedykh who expressed different thoughts about homecoming.

“I liked the strung lights on the patio and the theme [Barbenheimer] was fun and trendy,”  said Sedykh. “However, I think it’s so much more fun when we get to dress up, because the time, effort, and excitement spent getting ready makes the dance that much more meaningful in my opinion.”

While it seems that the attitudes toward homecoming mostly boil down to factors such as Westminster’s budget, other dances, such as PDC, and the freedom of an informal dance, I asked my friend Dia Sashittal to explain why homecoming is such an integral part of her high school life. 

“It gives us something to look forward to,” said Sashittal. “It’s a whole big event because there’s a bunch of mini events and plans leading up to homecoming, like dress shopping and appointments and all that. Plus teachers are less likely to assign homework that weekend. Also, sometimes, simply making the plans themselves ends up being the most fun part.”  

Only time will tell if homecoming will continue to be informal at Westminster or not.

Edited by Phoebe Clayton

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