Though Winter Formal isn’t until Feb. 18, senior Lily Johnson is already in full-blown WinFo mode: she was recently appointed Chair of Winter Formal 2017.
Johnson, an avid planner and lover of all things aesthetic, responded to an interest-gauging email from Student Council President Joy Nesbitt about chairing the Winter Formal dance. Nesbitt, Form IV, leads the Chair selection process alongside Form IV President Malini Naidu.
“We ask seniors if they would be interested in leading us through winter formal and planning,” Nesbitt said. “Then we set up a date for them to come to the Student Council meeting and give a presentation on a fake theme.”
Although it wasn’t a requirement, Johnson chose to make a PowerPoint presentation to go along with her speech. She included slides of a sample invitation and decor, along with smaller ideas to incorporate the fake theme: “The Great Gatsby.”
“My best metaphor is that it was like a sales pitch,” Johnson said. “I just said, this is the theme, this is what I want to do, here you go.”
In all, five students indicated their interest in being Winter Formal chairs — or more accurately, co-chairs. Johnson was the only one who ran as a solo act; there were two pairs that also presented their theme ideas to Student Council.
Most Winter Formals are chaired by either one person or two people, but Student Council Sponsors Vickey Thumlert and Dara Williams recall last year as an out-of-the-ordinary affair. Due to a tie in the Student Council voting process, two duos were selected, resulting in a four-student team. That’s not the only unusual planning process Winter Formal has seen.
“One year, we had a senior and one representative from each grade,” Thumlert remembered. “But that was still one person at the top.”
Nesbitt has fond memories of last year’s Winter Formal and remembers that the Co-Chairs did a great job on the party. Getting there, however, was certainly difficult.
“Both [teams] had different visions,” Nesbitt said. “So this year, if we combined different teams, one person would go one way and one person would go another way.”
With Johnson running the show by herself, that won’t be a problem this year; instead, the concern was that there would be too much work for one person to do alone.
“[Johnson] told us that she doesn’t have a ton of extracurriculars after school,” Williams said. “So she said, ‘When I leave school, I leave school.’”
This leaves Johnson free to plan and continue the research she’s already begun on the theme. In addition to planning the decor and food at the party, as well as designing the senior lounge, Johnson will also work with mothers of Form I students to synchronize the Form I dinner with the atmosphere of the dance. Johnson’s younger sister, Chloe, is a freshman, and Johnson has already asked her a few questions about her ideal first Winter Formal.
“Having a freshman sister definitely helps me because I can ask her, without giving things away, what she wants out of a freshman dinner,” Johnson said. “I don’t have a lot of control over what’s there, but I do get to talk with those moms.”
When it comes to planning the actual party, though, both members of Student Council and the sponsors are excited to see what Johnson will come up with.
“We really liked how creative she was with her ideas, and how she went in with no limitations on what she could necessarily do. We saw so much potential,” Nesbitt said. “That’s not to say that we didn’t think everyone else had potential. She was a standout because she was really specific with her ideas.”
Williams agreed, sourcing Johnson’s boundless creativity as a major reason why her presentation was so well-received by members of Student Council. A Winter Formal planned by Johnson, she added, would be “very, very classy.”
“It’s hard to tell right now because we haven’t had a lot of meetings,” Thumlert said. “But from what we’ve seen, it’s going to be very elegant.”
For her part, Johnson is just having fun at this point. Assembling the PowerPoint was a vital step in the process, especially when it came to graphic design; Johnson is no stranger to that, having designed the Seniors 2017 logo featured on this year’s Form IV apparel.
“My favorite part was trying to tie in little things from the book — the senior lounge was a senior speakeasy, and I put a green light on the dance floor. Just silly Gatsby stuff,” Johnson said.
As for the real theme, Johnson can’t give too much away, but knows that the theme offers boundless potential.
“I feel like you can really show off with this theme,” Johnson said. “I want the theme to impress people. It’s definitely a theme that can.”
– Maria Katsulos – Business Manager