Winter Formal Amidst Omicron

Nour Khayat, Staff Writer 

University High School is hosting its first Winter Formal since 2020 on Feb. 18, 2022. The theme for this year’s dance is the Yule Ball, inspired by the Harry Potter series. Amidst continuing COVID concerns and the recent Omicron surge, there will be stricter protocols in place for the event.

The Winter Formal dance has historically been planned by the UHS Junior Classical League, or JCL. 

JCL club member and sophomore Jasmine Jung says that they continued the planning process amidst hesitations due to the ongoing pandemic. 

“There was hesitation to hosting Winter Formal, but we decided to go through with the planning because we didn’t want the students who had already missed most of the high school experience to miss any more,” Jung said. 

In the two years since the pandemic first started in March of 2020, many high school traditions and events have been canceled, which has made clubs like JCL determined to keep events running, though safety is their top priority. 

We’re super excited to host Winter Formal in the safest way possible this year! Everyone attending the dance will either have shown proof of vaccination or a negative test as of the day before the dance. The location we chose also has outdoor spaces as well,” JCL Consul Michael McPhie said.

This year, a new protocol is in place where students are required to submit proof of vaccination or prove a negative COVID test in order to attend Winter Formal. This protocol is stricter than the regulations for Homecoming last September, as neither vaccination status nor negative test result were required to attend. Masks, however, will not be enforced at the event.

“I wasn’t personally involved in the planning process for Homecoming, but with vaccine and testing requirements being more established now, we’re glad that we can implement them to make [Winter Formal] safer,” McPhie said. 

Despite the difficulties the Omicron outbreak poses, many students, including sophomore Gilii De Villiers, are excited to attend the winter formal. For freshmen and sophomores, it will be their first Winter Formal, as all school dances were canceled in the 2020-2021 school year. 

“I am excited to go to my first Winter Formal, as well as experiencing a dance that is not at school and is planned at a venue [instead],” De Villiers said. 

With the additional regulations for student safety, many feel more comfortable with attending Winter Formal. 

“I don’t have any concerns because the school is enforcing mandatory vaccines or COVID tests,” De Villiers said. 

JCL performed a Harry Potter-themed dance during Office Hours on Jan. 26 that served as a precursor to their full performance at the Winter Sports Pep Rally on the field the next day. JCL members were seen wearing white dress shirts and black pants, with different ties for their assigned house, inspired by the Harry Potter series and film franchise. JCL Consul and senior Scott Burke announced information regarding the upcoming Winter Formal after the dance performance ended.

The Yule Ball will be hosted at the Bowers Museum, with ticket sales starting at $55 with ASB and increasing to $75 as the Winter Formal date approaches. 

Though much of what is to be expected at the dance has been left unknown, JCL has sent out many advertisements with the Harry Potter theme, along with a scavenger hunt to get the students excited for what is to come at the dance. 

“I can’t spoil much but the decorations [at the event] will be based on the Harry Potter Yule Ball and all our publicity leading up to the dance will involve Harry Potter,” Jung said. 

Fans of Harry Potter may recognize the Yule Ball from the series’ fourth book The Goblet of Fire, which was a traditional dance held on Christmas Eve for the Triwizard Tournament. 

“The Harry Potter theme guides a lot of our promotion for the dance, which has been great because it’s a very recognizable theme and has a lot of great artwork and music associated with it. At the dance itself we’ll have decorations that will conjure up the image of the Yule Ball,” McPhie said.

More information on University High School’s upcoming Yule Ball can be found on the JCL Instagram page (@uhsjcl).