Formal Returns To West High


Art/Photo by Gaby Nieraeth(10)

Students make their way down the whimsical garden path into the Mad Tea Party Formal Event. The day before, as ASB was setting up the campus, ASB Advisor Ms. Eriksen expressed her excitement, saying “I think people will be surprised at what school can look like when you throw some different lighting on it. I’m looking forward to it!”

Alexssa Takeda, Co-Editor-in-Chief

   On May 22nd, the campus came to life, adorned with vibrant lights, scattered playing cards, and familiar animated charactersa scene that seemed straight out of Wonderland. After a year without prom, formal events have made a grand return. 

   But the event didn’t come without its obstacles, one of the most glaring being the location. With almost 500 seniors alone, finding a place to hold all attending students was quite the effort. When LA was in the orange tier, it allowed a maximum of 200 students at the event, less than half the students. 

   The original plan of hosting at the Los Angeles Zoo was tossed aside since hosting large events went against their safety guidelines. Another popular option was walkthrough events where groups of around 100 students could walk around the location, grab food, and enjoy themselves. Not only would this cut down the number of students passing through, but it would also cut down on time spent by each student. Unfortunately, this idea also went against the zoo’s guidelines.

   When LA entered the yellow tier earlier this month, it opened up more opportunities for the event. ASB landed on another option: hosting it at West. With a new maximum of 400 students, ASB got to work planning a formal which, unlike previous years, was to be entirely on campus. 

   ASB advisor Ms. Eriksen explained how the class arrived at the formal event’s theme, saying, “Because we have the native garden, we felt like that was a good Alice in Wonderland kind of theme.” Utilizing the layout of the campus, a committee of students created different sections inspired by the Disney classic. 

   Similar to Alice, students first wander through a beautiful garden featuring a tree decorated by strings of teacups and twinkling Christmas lights. They were then greeted by the White Rabbit, who led them towards the cafeteria. The Mad Hatter and his mad tea party then offered prepackaged foods along with hand sanitizer to provide students with a safe snacking experience. 

   Of course, it wouldn’t be a formal without a dance floor. With colorful lights and a DJ blasting music, students could dance the night away in the Queen’s court. “I had a lot of fun towards the end when everyone started getting on the dance floor,” Siona Sen (12) recounted, smiling. “I had fun dancing with my friends and just seeing everyone.” After time away from friends over the past year, it was nice to have a night to socialize and catch up. 

   Making their way past the DJ, students could participate in a fun game of croquet, which thankfully used normal balls and mallets instead of living flamingos and hedgehogs. There was also a screening of the movie that inspired it all, where students could sit back and munch on some popcorn. 

   Keeping in theme with a traditional prom, flipbooks were available for students to take as a memory of this unique night. 

   Although there were many challenges, ASB did its best to navigate through every issue that may arise to ensure students didn’t have to worry when they arrived to have a magical time. This includes pre-event COVID testing, strictly enforcing mask-wearing, and maintaining a safe distance between students throughout the night. When describing the process, Ms. Eriksen said, “You name it, we had to figure it out.”      

   Despite the accommodations ASB had to make to put together this event, Sen noted that it didn’t take away from the prom experience: “I think everyone treated it like it was prom. Everyone showed up in long dresses, the boys were wearing tuxes. So I think everyone treated it like prom, and they felt like it too.”  

   As almost 340 students left campus and the party came to a close, it seemed like the evening was a success. It was a night these students will never forget.