The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

The Student Newspaper of Poly Prep Country Day School

The Polygon

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Winter Formal Welcomes Entire Upper School

This December, Poly will be hosting its second annual Winter Formal. The school hosted its first Winter Formal on December 10, 2022, in the Novogratz Gym, intending that the event would be for just 11th and 12th grade students. As written in an email to juniors and seniors and their families last year, the school explained; “We have worked in partnership with the Upper School Student Government to ensure this new community tradition is student-driven. We believe that events like this grow Poly spirit and serve as milestones and create memories for our students as they move through their Poly experience.” But this school year, the Winter Formal has undergone some structural changes, including the event now being open to the entire Upper School, rather than just upperclassmen. 

The decision to expand the attendees for the formal came after receiving feedback from last year’s 11th and 12th grade students. According to Director of Student Life Jared Winston, “On the one hand, the first time you do something you’re going to have less attendance.” Winston used Poly’s Senior Sunrise, another recent school tradition, as an example. Last year’s Senior Sunrise had only approximately 50 students in attendance, while this year, the number of attendees was over twice that amount, reaching nearly 110 students. 

“The Winter Formal last year was a re-introduction to school dances for our Upper School students, which meant a lack of familiarity on behalf of students with what it would or could be. And so attendance came in at about 175 students for a possible 300 students to attend,” Winston said. If the event was only designated for students in grades 11 and 12, Winston estimated that roughly only 200 students would be present, not amounting to much of a difference. 

“As we grow, the presence of school dances back on campus, [we] also recognized that 25 more students at the dance would not address the wish of the [older] students, which was to increase the amount of kids there. To open it up to grades nine and ten as well, not only addresses the impulse that students want more people involved in the dance, but it also opens up a great opportunity to build community across the four grades,” stated Winston. 

According to Winston, students in grades nine and ten often interact with upperclassmen, particularly through student organizations, clubs, plays, musicals, athletic teams, or even siblings. “Opening this dance up to all students in the Upper School [is] a really great way to bring the division together and say, ‘Hey, you come here in ninth grade, you’re going to have four years of school dances where you’re going to be able to open up and let loose with kids across grades, build connections, create relationships.” 

Another important part of this year’s upcoming Winter Formal is increasing student engagement in the planning process. Student Government, as stated by Winston, has been largely involved in organizing the event and conducting student outreach. Recently, Student Government opted to solicit student ideas and input for the formal theme, which after conducting a poll on their Instagram story, was set to be Winter Wonderland. Winston added that another issue students had at the first Winter Formal was the inability to make song requests for the D.J., but he assured that this will not be the case this year.

“We are going to have a D.J. who is going to take student requests, and we’re

really excited about that. At the end of the day, we want programs like these to feel like they belong to the students. This isn’t an opportunity for adults to say no to kids,” Winston stated. 

Through opening up the formal to grades nine through 12, Winston has already noted that more students have RSVP’d for the dance this year compared to last year. “We’re hoping to have over 300 students there this year,” said Winston, asserting that there are no meaningful differences to the program that will impact the winter formal dance in any negative ways. 

“Dances are such a key part of the high school experience so I think it’s cool they brought it back,” said sophomore Maggie Cochran in a message to the Polygon. 

“I really love how they are making a point to make sure every student feels included, dances are just another key aspect to the high school experience,” added sophomore Madeline Gross in another message. 

“Coming out of the pandemic, it’s really important that we provide students with social opportunities on campus and safe ways to connect and engage in those moments that historically throughout American education have served as rites of passage in the winter,” he added. In comparison to other school communities, which Winston says are leaning away from hosting events such as school dances, “It’s really important to us and our students that we provide opportunities like [these]. It made me happy to know that there are experiences here at Poly that our students are going to receive on our behalf that make this community special when compared to peer institutions,” Winston added. 


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About the Contributor
Jordan Millar
Jordan Millar, Editor-in-Chief

Jordan Millar is the current Co-Editor-in-Chief of the Polygon and a senior. She began writing for the Polygon during her freshman year as a staff writer, served as the News Editor during her sophomore year, and the Co-Managing Editor during her junior year. Her favorite pieces to write are in-depth news stories and profiles. Outside of the Polygon, Jordan works as a professional composer and writes music for numerous top orchestras and ensembles including the New York Philharmonic, Little Orchestra Society, New World Symphony, and more; she has been composing since she was nine and participates in several music composition programs across the city. When she’s not writing articles or composing music, Jordan enjoys drawing, reading, and shopping! 

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