Dance Royalty: How Important are School Traditions?


Kelly Hawkins

Mars Purdy and Kaitlyn Cook were senior royalty in the 2022 homecoming season.

After days of planning, ASB Advisor Kelly Hawkins had hope that things would turn around. With a dance just in time for Valentine’s day, students were sure to flock in with their friends and partners. Hawkins soon took to counting royalty votes only to find a very discouraging – but not surprising – low response number awaiting her. 

Participation in dances and school traditions has decreased significantly in the past several years, and the ASB has been trying its best to hold strong in this uphill battle.

 The year of 2020 and the struggles it brought left Sedro-Woolley High School students uninspired, and the following years have more than depicted students’ lingering complacency. That lack of motivation has carried into school traditions, from low royalty voting to scarce participation in homecoming activities. Hawkins has questioned whether high-effort traditions are really worth continuing. 

“I’ve really been struggling the past couple of years because of participation and trying to keep the momentum going,”  said Hawkins.

Many schools, Hawkins says, have given up making floats for homecoming. It’s been a struggle, she admits, but she can’t imagine canceling such a long-lived tradition. 

“I think all of these traditions are a really fun and important part of your memories of high school,” Hawkins said. “I think kids don’t understand the value that has when you’re an adult like I am.” 

In contrast, some students, like tenth-grader Elyse St. Germain, find student-centric activities unnecessary. 

“The dances are great, but the things that need more students to help, it’s like we’re forced,” said St. Germain. “It doesn’t feel like we’re doing it at our own volition or because we actually want to help.” 

Many students find making time for school traditions difficult; similar to St. Germain, those who might wish to participate in after school activities often find themselves busy with sports or clubs. “I don’t even check my email, I’m already so busy with everything else.”

Despite the lack of enthusiasm concerning royalty, many agree that dances provide an important opportunity to gather with one’s friends and community. Senior Kaitlyn Cook finds this to be true with all school activities. 

“The most fun thing about dances is what you put forth,” said Cook. “If you go there and just stand in the corner listening to music, you’re not going to have a fun time. But if you go there and dance like you know exactly how to dance, but you don’t, you’re going to have a lot of fun, and this goes for many things.”

It’s important, Cook says, that people understand just how valuable and fun working together can be. 

“I’m not always proud of what my school can put forth, I think the culture can be really toxic to different minorities,” said Cook. “But, sometimes, when I’m watching the homecoming game – and I don’t know anything about football – everyone is happy to be there and we’re all cheering — I think that moment of unity is really nice, but it’s hard to achieve.”

These traditions may seem trivial, but school royalty has played an important role in the representation of minorities at Sedro-Woolley. Dances and traditions not only give students a chance to make important memories, but a chance to feel more welcome in a community they may not always feel comfortable in. 

“A lot of LGBT students aren’t interested in these very heteronormative traditions, and they just feel like it is not a place for them, but that’s not true,” said Cook. “Seeing yourself represented in these things is really important. If you’re a student of color, or you’re LGBT, or any sort of minority, and you’re seeing these traditions where people are represented who aren’t you, you’re not going to care about that event. Why would you?”

Whether it be a dance, a game, or a vote, putting effort into one’s community and trying to have fun can make all the difference. School traditions can become something greater, they can continue to be an important part of forming a great, accepting community. 

“If you can see yourself as the people in these events, you’re going to feel like a part of the school, you’re going to feel represented, and you’re going to be just a little bit more proud to go to Sedro-Woolley.”