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WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

The student news site of Westford Academy

WA Ghostwriter

SADD brings back spring semi-formal for first time since pandemic

Simrah Azmi
SADD members (left to right) Vineeth Badvelu, Irith Midha, Avery Ganz, and Makayla Cassie hold up their banner in front of their club bulletin board, which advertises their upcoming semi-formal.

For the first time since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Westford Academy’s SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) club will once again be hosting their spring semi-formal dance from 7-10 pm on Saturday, March 23, 2024, in the WA cafeteria.

Tickets for the dance will be sold for $10 in the school cafeteria on Thursday, February 15th and Friday, February 16th, as well as online on MySchoolBucks beginning Monday, February 12th. The tickets are open to all grades, a decision SADD made in an effort to get the whole school involved. Students are also allowed to bring friends from other schools, though they must go through a process involving signing and filling out a special form on MySchoolBucks.

We’re hoping to make it as inclusive as possible so it’s all grades, and kids can have guests from out of WA if they want to,” Rybicki said. “And if the numbers warrant […] more space, we will open up more space because we want to make sure that everyone can come who wants to come.”

Formerly an annual event which was part of WA tradition for quite a while, the popularity of the SADD Semi-Formal faded away about ten years ago along with dances at WA as a whole for a variety of reasons, such as school policy changes.

The club attempted to hold the dance a few times in the years that followed, and were met with varying amounts of success regarding student turnout, even having to cancel the dance entirely one year due to low ticket sales.

“There were two years in particular that were both really strong […] and we had a lot of attendance,” SADD advisor Laurie Rybicki said. “There were some years that we would try to put it on and then people just didn’t respond to the ticket sales.”

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, school events such as dances momentarily disappeared altogether. However, this year, the SADD members decided it was finally time to start their semi-formal back up again.

“We used to do this dance every year, so [we want to] bring back what we used to have,” sophomore and Herren Project secretary Christina Portante said.

Going along with the theme of having the dance be as welcoming to as many people as possible, the dress code will not be very strict. Students are encouraged to come to the dance in whatever clothes they feel comfortable in and what they feel qualifies as “semi-formal”, whether that is a longer gown or a sundress.

To attract more student interest for the dance’s revival, SADD has been marketing in a variety of ways. They have posted on their Instagram page, put up flyers around the school to advertise ticket sales, and aired an ad on the morning announcements, in an attempt to reach as many students as possible.

Looking back to the past popularity of the dance, SADD has been anticipating a high turnout and developing plans for how to address a large number of students attending the event.

“We have talked to Dean Murphy, and [talked about how] if [the dance] becomes as popular as it was in the past and we do sell out, how can we make it more inclusive?” Rybicki said.

They are considering potentially reserving the gym, where they would set up a “teen center”, in addition to the cafeteria, which has a capacity of 600 students. The teen center would be more oriented towards lighthearted fun and games, while the actual dance would happen in the cafeteria, so all students would have something to do.

“We’re trying to get the whole school involved, make [the dance] inclusive to everyone,” junior and SADD president Irith Midha said. “We want to try and make it as big and independent as possible.”

Although the dance is officially sponsored by SADD, they have been working closely with the Herren Project, another student organization with the aim of building support and awareness for those affected by substance abuse, throughout their planning process. The two clubs meet on alternating Wednesdays and share many members. With the semi-formal coming up, planning and logistics-related discussions have taken up both clubs’ time.

“The clubs meet every other week; they alternate,” Rybicki said. “So […] we’ve been working on the dance [during SADD meetings], but we’ve had to have some conversation every week, even on the Herren weeks.”

Both SADD and the Herren Project are focused on discouraging students from making choices that are detrimental to the health of themselves and those around them. By hosting the semi-formal and attaching their names to it, the club officers hope to put this issue at the forefront and provide students with an opportunity to connect with their community.

“Our project as SADD is to deter people from [things like] drinking [and guide them] to make safe choices,” junior and SADD secretary Vineeth Badvelu said. “Having a big school dance like this can bring more awareness to this as well as [being something] that everyone can participate in.”

SADD wants to spread their message to the most people possible. They have taken measures in their planning thus far, and will continue to do so until the dance in late March, to ensure that it is a safe, relaxing, and memorable night.

“SADD […] has a multitude of different initiatives that we try to focus on,” Midha said. “[Helping students make] good decisions on that night is a big part of what we’re doing, and having a good night for everyone so nobody is going home unhappy or dissatisfied, and everyone is […] enjoying their time.”

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Simrah Azmi
Simrah Azmi, Staff Writer
Hi! I’m a sophomore and this is my second year on the Ghostwriter. I love spending time with my family, reading everything from novels to webcomics, drawing, editing photos & videos, and satisfying my sweet tooth! I’m really looking forward to this upcoming year and having all sorts of new experiences on the Ghostwriter!

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