Hundreds of students transported to the magical land of Oz during this year’s “Night in Oz” themed homecoming dance on Nov. 4 at the San Mateo Event Center. For decades, the dance is a tradition that has followed the homecoming game against Hillsdale, Aragon’s rival. However, this popular event and school dances in general require months of planning and work from an entire commission of students as well as staff and administration.
Homecoming has been one of the most popular events at the school for years, a marker for the beginning of the year and the first high school dance for many new students. Last year over 750 students attended the event. This dance is one of the most attended out of all of the schools’ homecomings in the district, and there are many factors necessary for a successful event — the venue has to be picked, decorations selected, everything to create a perfect night.
Leadership adviser Melissa Perino, along with the Dance Commision members, are the main organizers behind the event.
“The hardest thing about planning a dance, especially the homecoming dance, is that there are a lot of factors involved,” said Perino. “The homecoming dance is very closely tied to our homecoming rally, so we have to collaborate with dance, rally and spirit commissions, plus all [of the] class councils in order to organize just what’s happening.”
The event also includes Homecoming Court, where two students from each grade are honored as exemplary Dons, which requires a means of voting to be planned, nominations surveyed from every class and tallied.
“The hardest thing about planning a dance, especially the homecoming dance, is that there are a lot of factors involved”
One of the major challenges in the planning of this year’s dance was finding a venue to hold it. For the past few years, the dance was held in the College of San Mateo’s event center. As the student body grew, however, CSM became too small to hold all of the kids who wanted to attend. Leadership followed with a survey asking whether students prefered tickets sales to be limited with an off-campus venue or an on campus event without ticket limitations.
“The student body said, ‘We’d rather stay together, we want to be inclusive, so let’s have it on campus,’” said Perino said. “So at the end of the year, that’s what we thought was happening, that we were going to have it on campus, in the gym, which no one wanted. The students wanted an off campus event, and we wanted to provide that for them.”
But, two months before the dance was planned to take place, a booking at the Event Center on the San Mateo fairgrounds fell through, and Aragon was able to get a last minute contract. Finding venues for dances in general is difficult, especially for a school, like Aragon, that wants to keep ticket prices low in order to include everyone, but still wants a nice venue for the event to take place in.
Another difficulty with the Homecoming dance specifically, is that it is the first dance of the year planned by the dance commission, and many of the members are new so are learning to plan a dance for the first time.
“My commissioners happen to be new, so we’re trying to train them while also building up this amazing dance,” Perino said. She ends up relying upon her head commissioner senior Soleia Sano for a lot of the planning.
“I oversee the group, Soleia runs the group, [junior Claire Mason] helps to guide as well, and our knew kids like I said are doing an amazing job at learning a very expansive role,” Perino said.
For freshman Lucy Tidwell, Homecoming was the first dance she planned.
“People don’t realize how much effort it takes for us to do this. And I really appreciate how much everyone in the commission cares about the dances”
“It’s been an amazing experience,” said Tidwell. “Not only did I learn what it takes to set up and plan for a big event but how much time goes into something like [homecoming].”
Administration and the dance commission work together to create a budget for the dance. They try to include plenty of activities for students to participate in, as well as dancing.
“We have an idea of what amount it is that we want to spend, and once we take out venue prices and other costs that we have to have, then we take a look at what we want to spend the money on for entertainment and for kids to be involved in,” Perino said. “For example, we know students always want a take-away, usually a picture. We know that students want things to do, the games are most interesting when as many kids can be involved as possible. So we try to budget by balancing out a really great idea with how many kids can be involved doing that one thing.”
This year’s budget was spent on activities like a light up foosball table, and a “Graffiti Wall” where students could take pictures and decorate them with digital stickers and backgrounds.
After venue fees are removed, decorations and food still have to be taken into account.
“We look online for things we need and contact vendors for what we want on the phone and through emails. For decorations we usually reuse what we already have or buy new stuff if needed,” Tidwell said. Working and communicating with vendors is one of many jobs that commissioners share.
“[There’s] not really [roles]. We all do whatever job is needed at time, which is usually given to us by our commission head Soleia. But most of the time we do whatever needs to get done. We are always working,” Tidwell said.
This year’s homecoming dance took months of planning by dedicated staff and hardworking commissioners to create a memorable night for hundreds of attending students.
“People don’t realize how much effort it takes for us to do this,” Tidwell said. “And I really appreciate how much everyone in the commission cares about the dances.”