Shawnee Sophomore Cotillion Cancelled

Sean Etter, Editor-in-Chief

No lights, no music, and an empty dance floor.

For the second year in a row, Shawnee High School’s sophomore school dance, the Sophomore Cotillion, has been cancelled. This has baffled and dissapointed students who had bought tickets for the dance and were looking forward to spending the night with their friends and their dates. The Renegade Report decided to talk with Sophomore Class advisers Ms. Woll and Ms. Riddle to find out more.

This year’s theme for the Cotillion was chosen to be Masquerade, a more formal theme as opposed to last year’s similarly-cancelled 80’s Glow theme. According to Ms. Woll, “The students on our Executive Council were back and forth between two themes, Hawaiian and Masquerade. There seemed to be more popular support for Masquerade and our council felt Masquerade was a little more formal than Hawaiian.” The members of the Sophomore Executive council also spoke with various groups of friends who also leaned toward Masquerade.

Unfortunately, the Masquerade met with a tragic end when the decision was made to cancel the event. The decision left students with one major question: why was Cotillion cancelled? According to Ms. Riddle, “With under 100 tickets sold, there were too many expenses that may not get covered or just about break even. With low numbers in attendance, there was also a fear it would make students feel uncomfortable on the dance floor and they would want to leave or not dance at all.”

The 2018 Cotillion met the same tragic cancellation as last year’s, despite the selection of a theme that was popular among the students. Ms. Woll and Ms. Riddle believe that a number of factors are at play here, including a general lack of interest in addition to rumors that the lights would be on and the food or the DJ would not be good. However, one particular factor has been an issue for students for years: hosting the dance in Shawnee’s cafeteria. “There just seems to be a general push back on having the dance in the school cafeteria, but it has always been Shawnee’s tradition to have it there… as advisers, we tend to think any time or anywhere you have an opportunity to be with your friends, dance, and enjoy food should equal a good time,” Ms. Woll explained. Since Shawnee began having its Cotillion, it has always been held in the school cafeteria as a semi-formal to formal dance for students to enjoy with friends. While both Ms. Riddle and Ms. Woll appreciate the work that staff members put in to promote the dance, they believe that student engagement and excitement for events like Cotillion are ultimately up to the students. “Awesome memories are just waiting to be had. You just have to buy a ticket and get your friends to do it too!”

Looking to get further information on the cancellation, the Report reached out to the Dimitry Faltas, the President of the Class of 2020, and Bella Turner, the Vice President of the Class of 2020, who helped planned the event. Both Dimitry and Bella agree that the primary factor behind the poor ticket sales was lack of student enthusiasm for the dance. “I think each year the Shawnee Sophomore dance has been dwindling,” Bella explained. “The fact that last year’s Cotillion was cancelled did not help our advertising either.” Bella continued, “We lost two days of selling due to snow days. Also, the scheduling of a basketball game the same night hurt sales.”

Bella was also able to confirm Ms. Woll’s suspicion that the venue played a part in the lack of student enthusiasm. “I was informed that students were not fond of the location of the dance, the cafeteria. Additionally, students thought the dance was too long.” When they looked back and thought about what they could have done differently to get more students to buy tickets, Bella and Dimitry had a few ideas. “I should have gone on the Renegade Morning Show and told Sophomores to buy tickets,” Dimitry said. Bella agreed, suggesting that they should have tried advertising the lesser-known offerings of the dance. “We were offering a variety of food, a playlist picked by the students, and many other fun ideas, but we probably needed to advertise those incentives better,” she explained.

The Class of 2020 advisers and executive council both believed the heart of the problem was lack of student enthusiasm for the dance. The Report decided to reach out to Shawnee’s Sophomore class in order to uncover the factors that led to the lack of interest in the dance. Among the Sophomores interviewed, many of them said that their decision to skip the dance was due to either not knowing who else was going to the dance or hearing that not many other people would be attending, leading them to decide to spend their time elsewhere. Additionally, while Sophomore’s liked the Masquerade theme, there were doubts among the students that Shawnee would be capable of pulling the theme off. As a result, students put off buying tickets until the last minute and eventually decided that the dance would be a bust and wasn’t worth buying a ticket. Some students added that the taste of music offered at school dances — which typically falls into the Pop spectrum — is what drives them away from attending school dances like the Cotillion.

Some students were upset that they did not have a say in the theme selection. They would have liked to be able to submit theme ideas and then vote on them as a class, rather than leave the decision up to just the Executive Council. Some Sophomores also said they would have liked to have more communication between staff and students about what would be offered at the dance, other than music and dancing. However, Cotillion is not exclusive to Sophomores; Juniors and Seniors are also eligible to buy tickets. One Junior said that upper-classmen girls can’t afford to buy dresses for up to four dances; between Homecoming, Cotillion, Junior Dinner Dance, and Senior Prom, it would be too expensive to get dresses for all four. As a compromise on cost, most girls decide to skip Cotillion.

One final comment breaks the whole issue into a much simpler explanation: Sophomore Cotillion just isn’t as special to students as the other school dances. Homecoming is a student’s first high school dance, and JDD and Prom are formal nights out with friends and classmates at venues such as the Constitution Center and the Franklin Institute. Those dances ultimately feel more significant to students than Cotillion, which is typically semi-formal and takes place in Shawnee’s cafeteria.

From the various interviews conducted on the matter, it becomes clear that communication and lack of student interest appear to be the driving factors behind the cancellation of this year’s Cotillion. If these areas are addressed, perhaps Cotillion will be able to run successfully next year.

The Renegade Report would like to thank Dimitry Faltas, Isabella Turner, Ms. Katelynn Woll, and Ms. Jessica Riddle for speaking about the cancellation of Cotillion.