Garrett Anderson was worried.
The ninth grader was getting ready for his first school dance, the Snowflake Ball at Grace Lutheran, and he was anxious about the other kids making fun of his moves. It’s a fairly common worry for teenagers entering the world of boy/girl dances, but this time the concern was unwarranted.
“(I was worried) people would look at me like I was weird when I danced, but once I started dancing all fears were gone,” Garrett said.
See, the Snowflake Ball isn’t like other school dances. The goal is to give teenagers a safe space to have fun while also finding ways to give back to the community.
Last year was the first year Grace Lutheran even had a high school class, so one of the students, Kaylee Duckwitz, decided to organize a dance that included everyone. And a handful of students in the inaugural high school class invited their friends from other schools. More than 60 teens showed up for the first Snowflake Ball, drawn in by the promise of clean music and dancing.
“Since the high school started up last year, I thought it would be kind of cool to have a dance,” Kaylee said. “Instead of just teens coming around, I thought it would be nice to support other groups that don’t get enough support.”
In 2016, tickets sales for the Snowflake Ball raised more than $450 for the American Cancer Society. Teens also brought books to donate to Lincoln Village Ministries in exchange for $5 off the price of the ticket. Kaylee said students collected more than 1,000 books the first year because many teens brought more than one book.
This year, Grace Lutheran’s high school students will be raising money for St. Jude Children’s Hospital—a cause that hits close to home for the Grace Lutheran high schoolers.
“Everyone in the class has at least someone who is involved with cancer, so we wanted to use that,” Kaylee said.
They will also be collecting books for Lincoln Village again this year.
While the dance is fairly new to the students at Grace Lutheran, it’s a little more special for three exchange students from South Korea. Organized school dances don’t exist in South Korea.
While K-pop, Korean pop music, is a cultural phenomenon, there aren’t places for teens to go dance.
Peter Kim, one of the Korean exchange students at Grace Lutheran, is ready for the new experience—although he admits isn’t a good dancer. Note: His classmates are quick to address his self deprecation by bragging on his artistic abilities.
“If we do socialize, we don’t really dance,” Peter said.
A Safe Space For Teens
Several of the students from Grace Lutheran transferred from other private and public schools. Aaron Crowe came from a school in Decatur, where he said the school dances happened after ball games with a radio station blaring from the parking lot.
“A lot of the kids were basically just grinding up on each other,” Aaron said. “It was the music you would see at a bunch of college fraternity parties.”
Each student submitted 10 songs they would like to hear at the Snowflake Ball. Those songs were screened for profanity and content before being added to the dance playlist. It’s not just the music that has to adhere to certain standards. The dress code and acceptable dance moves must also be in line with the Christian school’s guidelines. That means girls won’t be allowed to wear the popular midriff-showing formals in stores now, or anything that shows too much skin anywhere else.
As for the dancing, Aaron said the general rule is, “You, me and Jesus in the middle.”
The 2017, country-themed Snowflake Ball will be February 18 at 7:31 p.m. The unusual start time works as an added safety precaution. Guests will have 40 minutes to get in and get settled before the doors lock. After that, students won’t be allowed to leave the dance, only to return later—a practice that would lead parents to believe their high schoolers have been supervised the whole night.
Girls will also have to check their purses at the door to eliminate the opportunity to bring contraband—drugs and alcohol—into the dance.
The 18 Grace Lutheran high schoolers have really put in the work for the Snowflake Ball. They’ve talked to church groups, taken flyers to businesses, and collected door prizes to raffle off at the event.
If you’re a high school student interested in going to this year’s Snowflake Ball, you can purchase tickets at the door. Admission is $20 without a book or $15 with a book donation.