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So it should come as no surprise they spent big bucks to look the part last Saturday night - especially the girls.
Some spent up to $300 on dresses, plus $90-$180 on shoes, $60-$164 on hair and make-up, on top of the $85 for the ticket.
College head girl Kimberley Bates (17) said she rented her gown for $200 because it cost $400 retail and she was unlikely to wear it again.
''I'm that type of person - I never wear something twice.''
She also spent $164 on hair and make-up for the occasion, saying it was worth every cent.
''I'm only going to do this twice in my life, where I go to a formal with all my friends.
''I don't know when I'm next going to be dressing up for a formal occasion like this, except for my wedding.
''You spend so much of your life wearing school uniform - this is a chance for me to shine.''
Social committee member Rebecca Murray (17) agreed. She spent about $300 on her gown.
''This is what we all look forward to, getting dressed up,'' Rebecca said.
''It's an opportunity to be grown up and look like a proper lady.''
Social prefect Lynsey MacAskill (17) said she spent less on her dress because she had a budget - and she really wanted a particular pair of shoes which cost $180.
For that reason, she only paid $60 for make-up and asked her sister to do her hair.
The budget had to balance at the end of the day, she said.
Kimberley said many of her friends at school had their dresses made for them for the formal, possibly in a bid to cut costs.
But many had found it was not cheaper than buying them, because the cost of material and having it made by a dressmaker was high.
Bart Lind (17) made use of a ''pretty nice'' $150 suit he had made for him in Vietnam, and splashed out on a $25 haircut especially for the occasion.
The four were among 250 Taieri College pupils who attended their school formal at the Dunedin Town Hall on Saturday night.
Lynsey said the $85 ticket was good value for money.
Unlike many school balls, ticket-holders were taken on buses from school to the venue, where they had a meal before dancing the night away to a live band.
And at the end of the night, they were all transported back to school on the bus.
It gave many parents an opportunity to see all the pupils dressed up when they came to drop off and pick up their children.
Many of the pupils headed to the Wingatui Hall after the ball for a cartoon character costume after-party.
The cost of hiring costumes added to the overall expense of the night, with the cost of outfits ranging from $30-$100.
What the girls spent
Hair and make-up: $60-$164
What the boys spent