TEENAGERS are not usually draped in flowing white floor-length gowns, tailcoats and swathes of Maitland tartan for their end of year celebrations.
But year 11 students at Hunter Valley Grammar proudly upheld the school tradition of more than 20 years when they arrived at Wests City in Newcastle on Friday for the school’s annual presentation ball.
Event co-organiser Lesley Kennedy said more than 500 students, parents and guests watched as year 12 handed over leadership of the school to year 11, who were presented by name in pairs to the principal, deputy principal and guest of honour.
Each girl curtseyed, before each pair walked down a staircase for photographs and to join their peers to perform the Pride of Erin and a routine the students knew as The Grammar Glide.
“We are a very community based school and we still value traditions,” Ms Kennedy said. “A lot of parents and students look forward to this for years as they are moving through the school.
“It’s essentially their first introduction as young men and women and they embrace it each year.”
Mikayla McEwen joined the school less than four weeks ago and had to catch up on a term’s worth of dance practice with her partner, Theo Klok.
“At least if I stuff up no-one will see because my feet are covered!” she said, wearing her great-grandmother’s gloves. “I’ve participated in a year 10 formal before but nothing like this – I’m excited.”
Madeleine King found her Great Gatsby style sequinned dress online and wore it with pearl earrings, which were an anniversary present from her boyfriend.
“I don’t see this as any different to a formal, I don’t think the traditional idea behind it is there anymore.”
While the girls purchased dresses and shoes of their choice, the year 11 boys all wore identical suits, shirts shoes, cumberbunds and bow ties, which were hired or borrowed through the school.
Nick Maiden said the formal attire was “definitely a new experience”.
“This is not really a thing people do anymore – and I think it’s good that we do.”
Year 12 students were free to dress however they chose.
Outgoing school captain Lewis Drayton said it was an “emotional time” for his grade. “But as one door closes another one opens,” he said. “Thirteen years of schooling has come to an end, but we are all feeling prepared for the start of another phase.”
Schools across the Hunter held graduation assemblies, meals, Masses and clap-outs through the week to farewell year 12, before the Higher School Certificate written exams start on October 13.