IT’S the night when high school students are encouraged to swap text books for glamorous looks in a celebration of their hard work.
So when Belmont High parents found out the school had decided not to hold a formal for year 10 students, they mobilised to organise one of their own.
Coordinator Emma Ginn said 103 students – between half and three quarters of the year – had registered to attend the formal at Fort Scratchley on Thursday.
“It will be great for the kids,” Ms Ginn said.
“They’re all very excited about it and looking forward to the night.
“They were all quite upset when they found out there was not going to be a year 10 formal.
“They were talking non-stop saying ‘We have to organise our own one’ and ‘We can’t not have a formal’.”
Ms Ginn said she understood several schools had decided to skip year 10 formals.
“The school has said that the majority of students go on to year 12 now so therefore it’s not as important, because they have the year 12 formal,” she said.
“They’ve also had behaviour management systems and the kids that have had negative [results] would not be allowed to the formal and it would end up some were excluded.”
A Department of Education spokesperson said the decision to arrange a formal was up to each individual school.
“Since the end of the School Certificate and extension of the school leaving age, the end of year 10 has been seen as less of a milestone and fewer schools have arranged year 10 formals.”
But Ms Ginn said there were still several students leaving to pursue traineeships, apprenticeships or studies elsewhere.
“Year seven to 10 is a really important time and not everyone is going on,” she said.
“It’s nice to recognise they have worked so hard through their junior years and for those who aren't continuing to acknowledge the end of their formal high school years.
“For those who are going on, it’s about symbolising their move into senior years.
“Year 11 and 12 can be filled with stress and exams and pressure and it’s nice to celebrate before they spend the next two years studying and working really hard.”
A parent who has since left the school started organising the event in June and Ms Ginn took the reins in August.
She said she used roll call lists to ensure everyone – including in the special education unit – was invited.
She set up a Facebook event page and polls to gauge student preferences on the menu and decorations.
“It’s their night, I’m just the facilitator.
“They led on what they wanted.
“I didn’t go on to year 11 and I appreciated the chance to say goodbye to my year group and mark the end of my formal schooling.
“It’s a tradition and I didn’t want these students to miss out.”
Ms Ginn and eight other parents will supervise the event alongside two security guards.