The Donate-A-Dance club is attempting to lessen the effects of economic disparity on campus by helping students with financial needs pay for their dance tickets. This is its inaugural year, and since August it has helped sponsor 25 dance tickets.
“We gave 8 tickets to students for the back to school dance and for homecoming we gave 17 tickets. Our priority was seniors because it is their last chance to be able to go. We gave 10 tickets in our last meeting to 8 seniors and 2 juniors, and for winter formal our goal is to increase the amount of tickets we give out,” said sophomore Taylor Wooten, the club’s secretary.
Christine Bak-Boychuk, an English teacher, started Donate-A-Dance this year after she saw how difficult it was for many students to purchase dance tickets.
“I had a bunch of students that wanted to go to dances, but they couldn’t afford it. So, there was a bunch of teachers that were paying for dances for kids, and eventually more kids were asking but we didn’t want to say no to anyone,” said Bak-Boychuk.
Donate-A-Dance was founded on the principle that everyone should be able to enjoy what SJHHS has to offer, no matter their financial situation.
“If you don’t feel connected to your school, and you don’t feel connected to your community, then you maybe don’t see yourself going onto college, or doing the things that everyone takes for granted when you have money. It just makes sense that everyone should be able to participate, and if you don’t have the money then we have a way to help you participate and feel like you’re a part of the community,” said Bak-Boychuk.
There was a booth at registration this July both advertising the club for students who may want to join, and to raise money. It raised over $5,000 over the span of registration week, and all the money will go to paying for students’ tickets this school year.
“We have very generous parents…We’re really thankful for all the parents that want to make sure all the kids can go,” said Bak-Boychuk.
To make sure the money is going to good use, the club has a system in place to assess a students’ need. The club will create a questionnaire that people can use to apply for a ticket. They will explain about themselves, and why they are in need of one. Bak-Boychuk has access to the school’s list of students with extreme financial need, and the seniors on that list are first priority. For everyone else it will be up to the discretion of the club.
ASB has agreed to sell the tickets for the lowest price available, despite the date they buy them or whether or not the student has an ASB card. Donate-A-Dance handles purchasing the ticket, the student just has to come to the dance with their ID card.
To ensure that the sponsored students remain anonymous, only Bak-Boychuk knows their identities.
“I’m involved because it is an anonymous donation. Students don’t know which students get the tickets, only I know who got the tickets. We don’t want to embarrass children and make them feel like all the kids know they can’t afford to go to the dance, so we make it totally anonymous,” said Bak-Boychuk.
The club is open to new members. If a student wants to join, all they have to do is either sign up at club rush or contact the members through the club’s Instagram, @sjhhsdonateadance. There they can learn about meeting dates and sign up for the club’s “Remind” thread to receive notifications about upcoming events and meetings.
“They can DM the instagram account to join, and also join the remind on the Instagram account so they can get reminders,” said sophomore Cat Conlinsk, one of the club’s co-presidents.
The club is planning to expand over the years, and even create ways to help students be able to make the most out of their dances beyond just purchasing a ticket.
“We were thinking about starting a closet where people can donate old dress clothes. I know a lot of people will get a dress and wear it to a dance one year, but then they don’t want to wear it again, despite the fact it’s in perfect condition. We want to give an opportunity for kids to donate their dresses and dress shirts, and have it as a rack where people can come and borrow the clothes, or even purchase them at a low price,” said sophomore Maya Cappelino, one of the club’s co-presidents.
The club is going to continue to grow and find new ways to serve the underprivileged students at SJHHS.
“We’re never going to know how those kids feel when they get the tickets, but we know it’s going to be a great thing,” said Bak-Boychuk