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The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

The student news site of Inglemoor High School

Nordic News

Spring dances withering away

Annabelle Yip (she/her)

Tolo is a spring dance — often casual or semiformal — that many schools organize to boost student morale and challenge traditional gender roles. It’s most popular in the Pacific Northwest, originating from the University of Washington’s Tolo club, the name of which comes from the Chinook word for success and achievement. Some NSD schools hold three dances — homecoming, a spring dance or winter formal and prom — but aside from the spring dance in 2023, Inglemoor ASB has only sponsored homecoming and prom since at least 2018. The lack of interest in school dances affects student morale and social skills. To create a real sense of school spirit and limit isolation, schools should create engaging dances for students to socialize in-person outside of school hours. 

Changing priorities — namely teens’ growing dependence on online interactions — have decreased interest in dances. The decrease in in-person interactions limits proficiency in both verbal and non-verbal communication while also decreasing social skills. A 2022 study by Pew Research Center showed that 46% of teens aged 13-17 self-reported that they use the  internet for entertainment ‘almost constantly.’ This marks a staggering increase from 2015, when only 25% of teens reported such frequent internet use. This study underscores the pervasive nature of digital engagement among teens and the increasing portion of their lives spent online. Although teens prioritize socialization, the method by which they accomplish this has shifted dramatically. Text-based communication lacks the nuances of tone, body language and facial expressions. In turn, digital communication makes it challenging for teens to interpret and convey these subtleties in face-to-face interactions. 

The reduction in teens’ in-person interactions and in their ability to interpret non-verbal communication contributes to an overall decline in soft skills. Despite these changes, communication skills remain important throughout all of high school as well as in the workforce. High school is a major period for relationship development and social growth, so using technology to replace real interaction reduces interpersonal skills.

Already, teens experience the consequences of using social media as their primary form of communication: skills necessary for relationship-building have dwindled, and teen relationships have subsequently declined. A Psychology Today report shows that beginning in 2004, the percentage of 12th graders who had ever gone on a date decreased from 76% to 63% in 2016. Building romantic relationships is central to adolescent development. Teens must understand how to build and maintain both romantic and platonic relationships to prepare for success in post-high school interactions, since most professions require a certain degree of professionalism and communication skills. Although more forgiving, high school is no exception to these expectations. Unfortunately, the decrease in social interaction — and by extension, community — has prevented this from happening. 

School dances allow a wide range of students to connect, building community and student morale. They bring together large groups of students outside of an academic setting, facilitating community mixing that goes beyond cliques. Students connect with one another as they make plans for shopping, dinner and after-party activities. School dances — especially in the spring — contribute to higher school morale, especially after stressful academic periods like semester finals. Without dances, students lose opportunities to take a break from high school, make memories and meet other students.

To give students these opportunities, ASB must raise enough ticket sales to create a dance that students enjoy. When dance organizers take into account what students are looking for, dances have more appeal and more funds can be raised. In turn, this money can be spent on other events for school spirit. Extra funds raised from schoolwide dances can also help finance class events like prom. In a recent Nordic News poll, students were asked what would make dances more popular. Their responses indicated a preference for more food options, convenient timing, an outdoor location and greater student input in song choices. 

Incorporating these small but significant changes into school dances can enhance the overall experience. Students should be able to look forward to dances catered to them. Increased student input will drive ticket sales and allow schools to host more dances that students enjoy. Without ticket sales, students lack the opportunity to develop fundamental skills and meaningful high school memories. As schools continue to organize activities, they must be conscious of the wants and developmental needs of the student body.

Students also have a responsibility to fill: if they want to participate in school dances, they should be willing to give ASB ideas and constructive criticism. After all, ASB is unable to represent student views if no one is willing to share them. There are a number of ways for students to provide feedback.  Online, students can connect with direct messages and comments to Inglemoor ASB  (@inglemoorasb) and class officers. With effective feedback, ASB is capable of making student-supported dances that help form relationships, student morale and life skills. Inglemoor students need to take advantage of their high school experience to have fun, form meaningful relationships and build school community.


Pivoting from past gender roles

It is an unwritten tradition for Tolo that girls take on the responsibility of planning for the event: asking out boys to the dance, planning the party and choosing locations for dinner and photos. While this dance may have been a novel way to uproot gender roles at the time of its formation, public schools strongly emphasize equality between genders, rendering the idea obsolete.  

More and more, women are taking opportunities to lead in their professional and personal life. In fact, the emphasis on two genders makes the dance feel exclusionary. Gender should not be the foremost factor in school dances — fun and community building should be. Schools should continue to promote an “anybody ask anybody” culture. This opens up opportunities for students in nontraditional relationships to feel more included in school activities.

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About the Contributor
Annabelle Yip (she/her)
Sophomore Annabelle Yip is starting as a reporter for Nordic News. This year she hopes to have fun, meet new people, and contribute to a cohesive and entertaining newspaper for the school. She wants to learn more about journalism ethics, article editing, and reporting methods. Annabelle is also a private tutor, works part-time and works as the Director of Treasury for FBLA. Outside of Nordic, you’ll find her cooking for insatiable family members, buying useless items off Amazon, and tutoring sleep-deprived middle school students.

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