By Gil Alon
Managing Editor of Opinions
Every year the junior class comes together for one night at semi, achieving a goal that Newton South tries to cultivate all year long: create a unified community.
On May 13th, the junior class will host semi, a junior prom, where all juniors plus a guest or date are invited to come, dance and have fun. For months leading up to the event, juniors begin to discuss what they are going to wear, who they are going to go with and how they are going to ask that person.
However, semi is not important because of the fancy dresses people wear, the pictures people take or even the proposals that fill my Facebook feed. Semi and prom are not just simple school events and that is why I love them. Semi is special because it gives everyone a reason to make an effort to be nice and supportive to one another.
A manifestation of this sense of community is the support in the semi dress group. This is the only time I have seen many different people who do not speak, comment on how they like each other’s dresses. The comment streams are filled with comments such as, “This looks so good on you!” and “So pretty!” or “This is so cute!” I have never seen such a boost of positivity and encouragement where girls are building each other up instead of tearing each other down.
Given the opportunity that could have easily been a place of negativity and hostility, the excitement behind the event has turned the Facebook group into a supportive community.
Additionally, the promposals not only add excitement but create bonds with different people. As people need to plan the proposal they will reach out to their date’s friends, communicating with different people than normal. Also, the entire grade talks about these proposals as they are often shared on Facebook. This creates a common topic of discussion that stretches between friend groups, opening chances for different people to join the conversation.
Junior class officer Adi Shneorson noticed that the event brings the grade together even during the small tasks surrounding semi, like buying tickets.
“When people come up at lunch to buy their tickets, there is a big crowd [around the table], so people start talking to each other,” said Shneorson. “When [class officers] bring [semi] up in class and when we showed our promo video for the tickets people were all laughing about it together.”
These almost banal tasks force people to interact in ways they would never have before. Additionally, this interaction is magnified during bigger tasks like buying dresses or creating promposals, where people look for support and help from others.
Junior class president Bridget Tang added that students can also broaden the groups of people that they interact with through their dates.
“For semi and prom you should be sticking with your semi date, but by association their friends will also be there, so you have a good chance to meet new people,” said Tang.
Either while taking pictures before semi or during the actual event, the time spent with one’s date can open that person to more people they do not typically talk to. That association spreads and can create a closer bond throughout the grade.
Some argue that prom is the epitome of the popular kids and exclusivity; however, examples of acceptance at prom fill the internet. The Daily Journal found that a county in Missouri created a “Sea of Love” prom for students with special needs so they would also feel included. Harpaz of the Associated Press furthers that seniors in New York and Massachusetts have asked classmates with special needs to make sure that they enjoy prom. Harpaz argues that seniors are using prom as an event to further social acceptance.
Lastly, just the fact that people are excited and talking about semi brings the grade together. This is the first time the grade will go through an event considered a pivotal moment in high school: junior prom. The size and excitement over the event, encourages the majority of juniors to go.
However, it is inevitable that some students still feel the short term stress of finding a date and may even hesitate to go for a multitude of reasons. Tang argues, though, that peer pressure will push some students out of their comfort zone and cause them to go to semi, making the night more inclusive to all. Furthermore, once you are at the event, whether or not you brought a date becomes unimportant as everyone is dancing together.
Even if for the majority of the time a person remains inside their friend group, there are small moments at semi, such as dancing with different people or planning a promposal with a person you do not usually talk to, that can help foster new friendships.
The ultimate goal of semi is not to make entirely new friends but to create an event where slowly the grade bonds together and hopefully on the following Monday you will smile at someone new while walking down the hallways. Throughout the planning process and at the actual event, semi uniquely builds bonds between different friend groups, strengthening the community of the junior class like no other event can.