Winter Ball: A Night of Wonder or Worry?


Every day that students edge closer to Winter Break is a struggle, with one exception. That last cramming of information before a promised two week reprieve is a challenge, but a break in the monotony is offered in the form of Winter Ball, where ‘Iolani students gather at Pomaika‘i Ballrooms in Dole Cannery to dine, dance, and socialize through the evening. Many students look forward to this night to enjoy themselves during an otherwise stressful time. On the opposite side of the spectrum, some students question whether Winter Ball draws valuable time away from more important matters such as finals or Christmas.

As a ninth grader, everything is new and exciting. One can only enter high school once, and making the most of that first year is important. It makes sense, then, that school functions such as Winter Ball is the main topic of conversation. The halls buzz with information on dates, dresses, and makeup, a whirlwind of discussion that can sweep away even the most focused of students. Ultimately, school is a place to learn, and part of Winter Ball’s appeal is maintaining a relaxed environment for students as they enter the stressful time of semester exams. But when the painkiller begins to distract from the cure, it becomes a problem itself.

“Sometimes I feel like I just don’t want to go,” said Kacey Sasaki ’23. “It’s so much work for only one night.” Remarks similar to Kacey’s circulate annually, as girls and boys struggle to adhere to Winter Ball’s semi-formal dress code. For girls, time is a large factor, as finding the perfect dress, accessories, and shoes can take hours, and this daunting task can overshadow the joy of the dance itself. For boys, finding clothing and accessories that match with their dates’ may simply be considered a hassle and an unnecessary expense.

Students who choose not to attend the dance at all have other appealing options. Winter Ball is not the be all end all for people who want to spend time with their friends or escape the stress of impending finals.

“I would rather spend time with my friends in a less formal setting,” said Devon Young ’23. “Going shopping, watching a movie, or just hanging out is just like Winter Ball without the added pressure.” Winter Ball is a school-organized function that makes it easier for classmates to socialize, but students can still have a similarly memorable experience without attending this specific function.

“I understand the negative associations with events like Winter Ball, but I could not imagine not going. The expense is completely worth it,” Emily Heyler ’22 boldly proclaimed. Having forgone Winter Ball last year, Heyler was anxious to attend this year’s dance. She, like many others, feels that it is one of a handful of milestones in high school that should be celebrated. Events like Winter Ball allow high schoolers to celebrate their youth and display their carefree enthusiasm before they transition into adulthood.

While students may have mixed opinions, Mr. Jeffrey Hackler, a history teacher at ‘Iolani and first time Winter Ball chaperone believes that Winter Ball has a positive impact on students.

“I think it is wonderful to have an event that unites 600 students, from ninth to twelfth grade,” Mr. Hackler said. “It is a hallmark of a healthy school, where students from all ages get to mingle, where young ones get to see how their older role models behave in a non-academic situation.” Mr. Hackler understands how Winter Ball can bring students of all ages together and prepare them for the future. Learning how to present oneself in a formal environment can be nerve-wracking, but the support of friends and upperclassmen can help alleviate some of these nerves.

All in all, Winter Ball has its pros and cons, but no matter what they choose, students should always make a well informed decision. Winter Ball can be expensive, distracting, and difficult to dress for. But it can also be a mind blowing experience, a dream night where highschoolers can engage with friends, learn how to act in a professional atmosphere, and enjoy the time they have left in high school without worrying about upcoming finals or obligations.