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South Valley Journal

Excitement for first dance of the year brings huge turnout

Apr 01, 2021 02:29PM ● By Jet Burnham

Students celebrate the first (and only) school dance of the 2020-21 school year. (Photo courtesy of Katie Borgmeier.)

By Jet Burnham | [email protected]

After more than a year with no school dances, Riverton High School students came together for junior prom with an enthusiastic turnout: more than 1,200 tickets were sold.

Junior class Vice President Dylan Elliott said it was unlike any school dance he’s been to.

“Pretty much everyone stayed till the very end of the dance, which is so rare,” he said. “Even after they turned the lights on to start cleaning up, people were still there, just because we were so excited, and it was such a fun experience.”

Junior class president Grayson Smith said it was a highlight of the night to have so many students enthusiastically participating in the RHS tradition of chanting, “Ain't no party like a Riverton party!” after the last song of the night.

“We had this massive group, chanting this chant about our own school and the immense pride we have in the people there, and together we're all saying it as one big voice echoing throughout the whole gym—it was really cool,” he said.

Grayson said there was also a lot of enthusiastic support when the prom royalty was announced.

“Everyone all applauded every time a name was said,” he said. “It's been harder in years past to get that kind of excitement from the crowd, but everyone really enjoyed that.”

The dance created the feeling of unity that has been missing this school year, junior class Secretary Cayce Kirkham said.

“Dances bring a lot of unity,” Cayce said. “Just to be able to have activities where the whole school can participate together is just so huge, and that's just something that we've really lacked this year.” 

RHS Principal Carolyn Gough said school dances are a significant part of a rich high school experience.

“Dances are a chance to gather, to socialize with many peers all at the same time and to have a reason to dress up and do some fun activities together,” she said. She was just as grateful as the students were when the local health department and school board finally found a way to hold the dance safely. Students were required to wear masks and to show a negative COVID-19 test from the previous 48 hours to be admitted to the dance.

All Jordan District high schools were given permission to hold a prom. Most are scheduled for April, but RHS junior class officers scheduled theirs just weeks after approval was given.

“We just wanted to do it as soon as possible,” junior class Historian Tanner Morrison said of the early date of prom, which was the first school dance he’d ever been to.

The prom was the first school dance opportunity for many sophomores and juniors. To make sure no one would be left out, the dance was not designated as a girl’s choice or guy’s choice so anyone who wanted to could get a date and go.

Prom was held in the school gymnasium, so the junior class officers focused their budget on decorations. A collection of gold stars on which students had written their names, a red carpet and a large balloon backdrop were popular spots for students to pose for pictures.

“A bunch of people were taking pictures,” Tanner said. “Even after the dance, there's still people taking pictures, even while we were trying to take it down, there's still people taking pictures. I think the decorations really brought the unity and success to the dance and made it more fun.”

Grayson said having a dance and an opportunity to make memories with friends has had a positive influence on the atmosphere at school.

Dylan said people see being allowed to hold prom as a sign that life is finally getting back to normal. 

“There's this joyous moment that we are near the end, we're getting there and we're able to have this high school dance,” he said.

The Jordan Board of Education also approved a senior dinner dance, to be held in May.