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Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

Central Times

Naperville Central High School's award-winning newspaper.

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Central’s Winter Dance suffers record low turnout despite changes for 2024

Sophomore+Grace+Suida+dances+at+Central%E2%80%99s+Winter+Dance+on+Feb.+10.+This+year%E2%80%99s+dance+had+the+lowest+attendance+on+record%2C+despite+several+changes+made+to+the+event.+%28PHOTO+CREDIT%3A+Lifetouch%29
Sophomore Grace Suida dances at Central’s Winter Dance on Feb. 10. This year’s dance had the lowest attendance on record, despite several changes made to the event. (PHOTO CREDIT: Lifetouch)

The Naperville Central Winter Dance recorded fewer than 500 attendees on Feb. 10, the lowest number on record and over 300 less than last year. With low ticket sales, the event—usually a money-maker for Senior Class Council (SCC)—lost between $200 and $300.

According to a survey of 317 Central freshmen, sophomores and juniors conducted by Naperville Central administration during Homeroom on Feb. 20, the top reasons for not attending were a lack of friends attending and “hype” surrounding the dance.

“We’re struggling to figure out [why] the hype was not there,” said Samantha Szopinski, Central’s Dean of Student Activities. “I think COVID really messed with school spirit. You [belonged] to your basement; you feel like you don’t have a sense of belonging in [Central].”

For junior David Benton, the lack of hype was largely due to the timing of the dance.

“During the start of the school year everyone’s excited, but around like winter dance time everyone’s kinda sick of the school,” Benton said. “I think it’s just the timing of everything.”

Despite running the event on a budget $2,000 less than usual, SCC still ended up losing money from the event.

“Attendance has been steadily falling and this year was the record low for overall attendance ever,” SCC Treasurer Lucy Anderson said. “Participation in school events in general has been decreasing, and I think it was exacerbated by COVID-19. Attendance in general for a lot of things is really low [this year].”

During Winter Week, 500 students participated in Wednesday’s pajama day dress-up theme according to Szopinski. During Homecoming week, over 1,200 students dressed up for the same theme day.

“The world is becoming more antisocial and secluded,” a freshman wrote in the anonymous survey. “Social events such as dances are slowly fading away and it is only going to get worse.”

Attempting to increase attendance, Senior Class Council worked to rebrand the formal dance to feel closer to the more popular Homecoming. While 30% of students surveyed said that it was still “perceived as a ‘couples’ dance,” others felt that the change was successful.

“It was more of a party, less of a dance [but with] the same dance feeling,” sophomore Charlotte Gobernatz said. “[But] if your friends aren’t going, then there’s less of a chance of you going.”

According to the survey, students ranked the dance an average of 3.2 stars out of five, a number that Szopinski is proud of.

“I think that [the] kids who went had a good time,” Szopinski said. “I struggle [because] yeah, [attendance] was low, but almost 500 kids had an enjoyable experience.”

Next year, Szopinski has planned the dance to occur earlier and coincide with the Central v. North basketball game. She’ll also work with student councils to get more student feedback for theme days.

“It would be neat to get some feedback from the general [student] population,” Szopinski said. “It would be cool to do surveys [in class Remind groups] and homeroom.”

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About the Contributor
C.J. Getting
C.J. Getting, News Editor
C.J. is a junior entering his third year on Staff for the Central Times. He’s always loved writing news, and is excited to work as the News Editor this year. When he’s not writing for CT, C.J. can be found captaining the Debate Team or helping out SAC or JSA. He also desperately needs to detox from volunteering. After graduation, C.J. hopes to major in Political Science and spend too much money on Law School someday.
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