Formal of Stars

Krishna Khawani, Staff Writer 

This Saturday, February 8th, University High School’s Junior Classical League (JCL) is hosting its annual Winter Formal at the Dana Point Ocean Institute. The historic dance is one of two that is open to all UHS students, as has often been dubbed as “superior” to its counterpart – homecoming. JCL is responsible for planning the dance, and each year develops the night based on a theme, with this year’s being: Lost in La La Land, A Formal of Stars.

The dance’s theme is a very obvious derivation of the hit movie La La Land, starring Ryan Gosling and Emma Stone. The movie, set in a nostalgic Los Angeles, will have elements sprinkled into the dance, through decorations and setups, with possibly more of a presence in the night than the previous year’s formal theme. Students at UHS have mixed reactions about this choice, with sophomore Nadia Jahanbin explaining, “I think it has a possibility to be a fun theme for people who have watched the movie, but for those of us who haven’t, some of it may be unrecognizable.”

Aside from the theme, JCL board was tasked with publicizing, planning, and building up excitement for the dance. With so many moving parts and aspects to planning a school dance, how exactly has JCL gone through the process?

The entire undertaking began with deciding upon a theme, something that serves are the foundation for almost every other aspect of the dance. Groups of JCL board members came together to develop and crowdsource various options for the theme, majorly stemming from popular culture references. As the voting process narrowed the field, a top three was selected: The Great Gatsby, Up, and La La Land. The final round came between Up and La La Land, with the latter crowned as the victor and decided theme for this year’s Winter Formal. From here, JCL was able to branch out into various sectors to divide and conquer the plans.

Publicity was one of the most active divisions of JCL in planning the dance, since it included such a wide variety of methods. One of the most notable publicity feats by JCL was the dance flash mob, held out in front of Latin Hill and later during the winter sports pep rally. Board members who were a part of the dance devoted countless hours to choreographing and learning the number, and held three hour rehearsal sessions, office hour practices, and even used time at board bondings to refine the dance. The dance was to a mashup of tracks from the La La Land soundtrack, produced by JCL board members as well.

Another aspect of the publicity for the dance was in the traditional sense of the word, and put emphasis on spreading the word through social media. A sector of JCL board was again created, this time for the purpose of developing art and digital fliers to be posted by members and class councils throughout the weeks leading up to the dance. The publicity also made its way into Univision, with last Friday’s episode containing an ad for the dance along with another reiteration of the theme for those who were previously unaware.

Continuing on the trend of artwork and design, Winter Formal tickets sold at the SAC were accompanied by an envelope containing “bids”, or miniature pieces of artwork designed by the artistic commissioners for the dance’s publicity. These works of art came in variations, however distribution was hindered due to the SAC’s temporary closure last week, leading to a reliance on online ticket sales, something that could not include these bids.

Formal court is also something being used by JCL to publicize the dance, with Google forms and spreadsheets being used to narrow the field between rounds.

“The whole thing has been set up in an intentionally democratic process, that way people can be represented and have a fair voting process. That’s why it’s really important for classes to vote on the forms, and crown the people who they feel deserve it,” explained senior Jaimin Patel. The Winter Formal Court will be announced and crowned during the night at the Dana Point Ocean Institute.

The final major part of publicity for the dance is an ongoing scavenger hunt that gives various prizes to the winners based on the difficulty of the level. These prizes are discounts on tickets, with the final prize being a free Winter Formal admission ticket. The scavenger hunt includes both digital and physical clues hidden throughout the school and on social media. The scavenger hunt is designed to follow a storyline depicting a musical career, yet another reference to the plot of La La Land.

JCL’s remaining responsibility for the dance has to do with the event itself, firstly pertaining to the venue. The venue was chosen far in advance, with Mr. Josh Davis being the primary voice of authority in deciding. At the venue, JCL board members will be responsible for handling item check, not to be confused with the prior system of coat check. The change was made last year after coat check posed too big of a hassle for the organizers. Guests are now limited to checking in specific items outlined by JCL board, all of which fit in a half-gallon zip-lock bag. 

This week marks the last ticket sales, so make sure to buy them in advance at the SAC, or be prepared to buy at the door. Prices are $65 with ASB and $75 without, until the end of the week, and are $100 at the door. If you prefer, tickets can even be bought online at the UNI Webstore, at