Collective effort to keep school ball costs down


Last year’s year 13 group at Oxford Area School enjoyed their formal. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Last year’s year 13 group at Oxford Area School enjoyed their formal. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
The school ball season is fast approaching and in Oxford parents and students are working together to keep the costs of attending the major social events affordable.

The year 11 to 13 dean at Oxford Area School, Paula Christensen, says this year's formal ball on August 24 will be one of the biggest in recent memory with over 120 students expected to attend.

‘‘We hold our formal ball for students attending years 11 to 13 and it is amazing to see them all dressed up.

‘‘Over the three years, you can see how much attending the ball fills them with self-confidence and social awareness.’’

She says many young girls attending their first formal will look to their older sisters for guidance on dresses, make-up and heels.

‘‘Many wear their older sister's gowns for the first year but, as they age, they start to seek their own style. And by the time they get to year 13, they want to make a bigger statement about who they are in their final year at high school."

Members of the school's formal organising committee, a student-led organisation, say they and many of their peers are working with their families to keep the cost of the formal down.

Seventeen-year-olds Abi Denley, Ella Luscombe and Nikayla Beer all have part-time jobs as they look to spend from $275 to more than $500 to attend their final high school formal.

"The biggest expense is the dress. It takes a long time to find one that suits who you are, and these can cost from $150 to $700," says Nikayla.

"Then there are heels, make-up and hairstyling. The car ride is easy as we can use dad’s car.

"Many girls and boys look to second-hand clothing outlets, which stock some amazing dresses and suits, but locally there are few shops which deal in formal wear.

"It is quite hard buying online because all the models are so thin and unrealistic and it’s hard finding somewhere to try on the gowns on offer."

Looking over what dresses are available online on Paula Christensen’s laptop are Abi Denley (left...
Looking over what dresses are available online on Paula Christensen’s laptop are Abi Denley (left), Ella Luscombe and Nikayla Beer, all 17, from Oxford Area School. PHOTO: JOHN COSGROVE
Nikayla said their parents were very supportive and actively encouraged them to go to the formal, but they were also aware of the cost and were working with them to fund the night.

To fund her formal attire, Nikayla is working in a local diner, Abi is working on a farm, and Ella is working at the pie shop in Oxford.

Christensen said the school is doing what it can to help. Six years ago it bought the formal back into Oxford to help ease the costs on parents and students.

"We used to hold it at Addington, but for the numbers attending it was prohibitively expensive so we returned it to Oxford."

She says the school have managed to keep the attendance costs down over the past few years but this year the committee have decided to look for a different local venue to hold the function which may cost more.

Ella says as it is a senior project, they went to the student body and asked them what they wanted for this year's formal.

"We are holding a red carpet event and everyone's been talking about it since school started this year."

Mark Shelley’s daughter Charlotte, 15, is attending her first formal, and he says it is very important as it will help lift her social self-esteem.

"I think it is worth it to help her spend money on a beautiful dress as she will get a lot out of the event.

"I know I am going to be amazed when I see my daughter in a formal dress for the first time."