A Night in Paris

Emmalyn Meyer, Executive Editor

Semi

It’s the night that several hundred students have been waiting for since the beginning of November. Groups of girls and guys flock to upscale restaurants in their almost-best attire. Couples exchange matching corsages and boutonnieres and marvel at each other’s put-togetherness. They pose for picture after picture, taken by friends, moms and unaffiliated parties who happen to be walking by. Finally, after a quick touch-up, they’re off to the Homestead cafeteria to spend a night dancing, talking, laughing and, for the girls, casting high heels to the corners of the room when their feet begin to hurt.
Homestead students know that the semi -formal dance is a night to remember. It’s also a peak social event for freshmen and sophomores, who cannot attend prom unless invited by an upperclassman.
“Semi is a fun event for students to get dressed up and have fun all together at school,” Amelia Elliott (10), a student government representative, said. “I think it adds to the unity of the school because the students get excited as a whole.”
The sophomores in the student government are in charge of the semi-formal. The planning begins early on in the year, because there is a lot of preparation that goes into it; plus, they are new to the event-planning side of running the student government.
“Since we get elected at the end of the year, we have to start deciding themes, decorations, and getting a vague idea of what we want at the first meeting,” Carly Chen (10), another student government representative, said. “Then, as time goes on, we can consolidate everything.”
This process can be quite difficult for a group with many diverse ideas and visions.
“There are many different ideas in student gov that often clash,” Elliott said.
Although the students have a party planner to rely on when it comes to selecting and renting decorations, many decisions are their own. The budget that the students adhere to comes from that of previous years, as well as the party planner’s experience and knowledge.
“Obviously, we don’t want to go insane, and we have a party planner, so when we consult with her, she already has a budget in mind and suggests things that she already knows stay within that,” Chen said.
This year, the theme is “A Night in Paris”. Though Chen cannot disclose much about the special features that the night will include, she is excited for one interactive component that will be a part of this year’s theme.
“We’re going to have these things along the sides that are almost like the streetfronts of Paris that you can take pictures with – they’re going to be so cute,” Chen said. “They’ll set them up so that they look like different stores in Paris.”
Also, the theme has been changed and tailored to student opinion throughout the process.
“We were thinking about City of Love, but then we thought that it was a bit much and changed it to something less cheesy,” Elliott said.
One concern from the student body is the lack of food and drink at the dance, especially since it seems that other schools might provide sustenance at their events. However, this is due to school policy and how it ties into the budget for the event.
“If we have any food at the dance, even a chip bag, we need to have it catered due to school regulations. We have to factor that into our budget along with everything else, so we just can’t,” Chen said.
It’s of unanimous opinion, though, that the most fun part of the night is everything that happens before even arriving at the dance. For girls (and guys, supposing that they don’t just wear something that they’ve worn before), this process begins one to three weeks before the night of semi-formal. Or, if someone is really pushing it, then he or she might begin preparing the night before the event.
“I think my favorite part of semi is getting ready for it,” Chen said.
However, this opinion is not due to a lack of interest in the event itself, but rather, what the students have decided is tradition and important.
“I think the students have taken it into their own hands, going the extra mile to get ready for semi,” Elliott said.
Many students shy away from attending the semi formal if they do not have a date. Even if someone does not have a date to the dance, they can still have a good experience with a group of friends.
“I think that everyone should go to semi, regardless of whether they have a date or not. I went with a group of friends last year, and we were dancing like crazy and screaming all of the songs – it was so fun,” Alli Minich (11) said.
Speaking of dates: if you have one that attends a different high school, they can’t come to Homestead’s semi-formal due to a new rule this year that bans students from other high schools.
“I think that someone made a ruckus last year so administration just doesn’t want to deal with the hassle,” Elliott said.
In any case, the semi-formal dance is a great time for students to let loose and indulge in a classic teenage experience alongside their peers. The event will take place on November 23rd from 7-10 pm. Tickets are $15 today and $20 tomorrow and are available for purchase in all lunch periods.

On Shopping: Emmalyn’s Take on Buying a Semi Dress

“Wow, I think this is the one for me!” “Oh my gosh, how is this so expensive?” “Hold on, does that dress have pockets?” “Honestly, I should have just gone thrifting this year.” “How does it take someone so long to try on one thing? Did she get lost inside her dress?”
These are a few things you might hear when you’re waiting inside a popular high-end dress shop, furiously sorting through dresses of every color and length, trying to find just one that would look good on you, and then waiting several decades for a fitting room door to swing open. Then, once you enter a room, you’re panicked for time and basically doing yoga in an attempt to wrestle your way into a dress that’s way over your price limit.
Any girl who goes to the semi-formal knows the pain of dress shopping. It’s time- and savings-consuming, as well as downright frustrating. Paying $20 for a ticket to the dance is only scratching the surface of a mountain of costs, which include: a new dress, new shoes, a manicure and pedicure, and any makeup and hair you have done the night of. And it’s not even prom!
Why has this become a process that ladies have to put themselves through every year? Plus, many people only wear their semi dress once – that’s a lot of money spent for one occasion. Can we just agree that if the dress works one year, it’s okay to wear it again for the next year’s dance? Or, maybe, for prom, if it’s formal enough? By the way, I’m giving a huge shoutout to girls who attend more than one semi-formal or prom in a year and have entirely different dresses to go along. Props to you; on an entirely unrelated note, I’m currently taking donations for an organization that provides impoverished family with food and drinking water.
Of course, social media norms have ruined this opportunity for us. It’s seen as odd if you post a picture of yourself wearing your semi dress, then post a different picture months later with the same dress. I guess we really need to sell it to others that we own more than one dress. Of course, I’m different. Once, I posted two pictures back-to-back featuring pictures of me wearing the same dress. One month apart.
Anyway, the point of this column was originally to showcase the best places to buy semi dresses, so I’ll do that now.
The most popular formal wear shop for teens at any given time is Windsor. If you’re thinking of stopping in to browse the selection, don’t. The space, though well spread out, is small, but its crowdedness can create a tense atmosphere. In my experience, Windsor offers many styles, but fails to cater to all customers’ body sizes, and the styles tend to be more flattering for more petite figures than round ones. Also, in all honesty, they’re not very modest, so if showing a little skin is not your thing, other stores might be a better fit. The prices are fairly reasonable, but for the material quality, it’s not exactly worth it.
Usually, I like to stop at Macy’s at the Glenbrook Mall first, because it carries a large variety of colors and styles. The prices are reasonable, too. Plus, the store can also tailor to your other needs, such as high-end makeup, shoes, designer clutches, a baby stroller, pots and pans, and large giraffe stuffed animals. However, this year, I found the quality and quantity of dresses to be a bit lacking, but that may just be because I went the third week of October.
JCPenney is another department store that has a slightly classier feel than Macy’s. That could just be the Sephora that’s parked upstairs, though. There’s nothing like rubbing glittery powders all over your face and hands before going to try on expensive dresses. I would discourage you from eating sugary foods prior to your trip to JCPenney, though, as you might run out of steam before you can even find the dress section.
I’ve also heard that clearance racks, especially at Von Maur, can be a gold mine sometimes. In general, cheap stores like Kohl’s are great for deals. Here’s a life hack: if you randomly decide to go to semi the night before it, Kohl’s can come in handy, because it is open until 12 am on Fridays. Although you might not end up with the best dress in the cafeteria, you will (involuntarily) have spent much less money and time on a dress than you would have otherwise.
Whether you buy a new dress, thrift one, steal one from your older friend who graduated four years ago, or wear last year’s, I can guarantee your semi-formal experience will not be affected.