On January 4, Principal Lauren McBride emailed BHS students announcing her decision to postpone Winter Ball due to surging Covid-19 cases in the district. Initially scheduled for January 29, the dance will now take place at a later date in March.
“This is an event I look forward to every year,” Student Planning Committee member Kami Chadwick ‘22 said. “You just wish there could be some other alternative.”
Administration had already imposed Covid-19 related restrictions for the dance in December, such as reserving the event for juniors and seniors and requiring proof of vaccination. After the rise of the new, highly transmissible Omicron Covid-19 variant, Principal McBride met with Chittenden County principals from Colchester, MMU, CVU, Essex, and South Burlington to decide on a further course of action.
“If we had the dance, chances are we would probably have to close schools for at least a week or two weeks because everyone would be sick,” BSD Lead Nurse, Rebecca McCray, said.
Ahmad Dennis ‘23 remembered Winter Ball in 2020.
“I heard songs I liked and took pictures with my friends,” Dennis said. “Those were some of the last pictures we took together before the lockdown.”
The Student Planning Committee started organizing the event in September. They booked a venue, found a DJ, hired photographers, arranged for security, determined a theme, and designed invitations.
“I think postponing the dance makes sense right now,” Student Planning Committee member Libby Westbrook ‘22 said. “But I’m excited it wasn’t canceled. We worked hard to organize everything.”
The committee wanted to host the event this year despite Covid-19 because they understood the importance of a school-wide event outside the classroom.
“I don’t know a lot of people outside of sports and my classes,” Westbrook said. “Having a shared experience, such as a dance, might help change that.”
The current dtBHS building lacks open spaces where students can gather. Student Planning Adviser Bowen Stephens said this creates a disconnected and impersonal learning environment.
“Some of the reflection we have seen this year of school vandalism is a reflection of students not feeling like the building belongs to them or that they are part of our community,” Stephens said. “We need to build that back with normal traditions.”
But Stephens shared a silver lining to the ball’s postponement: it may be open to all grades in March as warmer weather will allow students to gather outside, mitigating Covid-19 transmission. The Student Planning Committee has agreed to schedule a separate dance for Freshman and Sophomores at a later date otherwise.
“I do miss school dances,” Bee Amerson ‘24 said. “The music is bad, the food is usually bad, but I have fun.”