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: Turnout Less Than Expected


Poly held its second annual Winter Formal in the Legacy Gym on Saturday, December 9, where about 100 of 410 (~24 percent) students who RSVPed to the dance attended, according to Eli Floyd, a senior spirit captain. The freshman class represented the majority of those who attended, despite the entire Upper School being invited.  

“I anticipated around an 80 percent attendance rate on 410 students who completed an RSVP form,” said Jared Winston, director of student life. Last year, 83 percent of students who RSVPed attended the formal, according to Winston. 

One of the primary problems was that the RSVP form was sent to both students and parents, and parents signed their kids up without asking, according to Reese Roaman. “From my understanding, a lot of parents just signed up their kid because they assumed, oh, it’s a winter dance. They’re going to want to end up going,” said Roaman. “And then when the day came, it was like, ‘Mom, I don’t want to go. Why did you sign me up for this?’”

Last year’s spirit captains Olivia Umeh ’23 and Justin Mondesir ’23 introduced the idea of a winter formal at Poly, which only invited juniors and seniors. While the idea was met with excitement, it also raised questions of whether a winter formal belonged in Poly’s culture, according to a Polygon article ahead of the inaugural dance last December. 

“I don’t know what to think about [it]. Honestly, it takes away from the Poly Prep Prom, which is just for seniors,” Eliza Manny, who graduated in 2023, told the Polygon last year.

Winston said he received emails from parents delighted at the idea of a school dance. He and those parents remember dances being key parts of the high school experience. “Schools hold dances so that everybody can feel included in the community, especially those who might not feel socially included otherwise,” said Winston. “It is not lost on me that a school dance culture is new to Poly Prep. Building that culture, which was expressed to us by the students … takes time, right?”

Revisions to this year’s winter formal included the DJ taking student requests for songs, the photographer taking pictures on the dance floor, and the setting being the Legacy Gym instead of the Novogratz. There were once again lights, tables, snacks, and drinks. But Roaman thinks that, in following years, there needs to be more attention towards attendance: “How are we going to ensure that the students who sign up actually show up? And how are we going to ensure that we get more of the student body?” she said.

Kyle Williams, who graduated in 2023, described a similar scene at the inaugural formal to that of this year’s in an op-ed published in the Polygon in February: after arriving ten minutes late, “I expected the Novogratz building to be teeming with people, but it was surprisingly empty. I could count the number of students who had shown up, other than me, on my two hands, and no one had even bothered to go up to the gym yet.” This year, by the time the doors were supposed to close at 7:30, the gym was far closer to empty than full, and students were still slowly trickling in. Prior emails from Winston said students would be prohibited from leaving until 9:30, but some who asked to leave early were allowed. 

Winston recognized that students have social lives outside of Poly, and that “more exciting social opportunities [may] have presented themselves to students closer to the date … which decreased attendance.” But he also added that the date of the Winter Formal was announced several weeks ahead of time. Floyd said it was “frustrating” for the event organizers to see so few students attend.

“You know, we’ll have a dance next year if students want to have a dance next year…[but] there doesn’t seem, to me, to be a pressing reason to have another winter formal dance,” said Winston. “My only hope is that students had fun on Saturday night no matter what they were doing.”

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