Winter formal may look different for high schoolers this year, but students in Turlock are putting aside their crosstown rivalry in order to make the event one to remember.
With the coronavirus pandemic putting a stop to school dances, Turlock High and Pitman High are joining forces to provide a different way for students to come together through the first-ever Crosstown Formal Court. Rather than the typical pairing of king and queen nominees from the same schools, students at both high schools nominated four kings and four queens each, who were then paired with students from their rival campus.
After student voting this week, the winning couples will be announced on Friday: one king and one queen from each school.
The event was planned by both schools’ respective Associated Student Body organizations, which hope it can serve as a way to bring some normalcy back into the school year.
“I’m definitely one of those people who would have thought it’s a crazy idea to have something with Pitman, but I think since we literally can’t do anything right now it has brought a sense of unity and fun to all of us,” THS ASB spirit leader Josh Backus said.
Backus, a senior, is also a nominee for king. He said he and his fellow ASB officers felt the need to provide some sort of school event for students after realizing the school year was flying by. Both THS and PHS students have been distance learning since March 2020.
“I feel bad for everyone in our grade...at our last ASB meeting we were already talking about officers for next year, which is crazy because it seems like we haven’t done anything yet,” he said. “It felt like we owed this to our class.”
While Friday’s formal won’t feature a dance floor, both schools are encouraging students to dress up and share the photos on social media where the formal kings and queens will be announced. The winning couples will receive gift baskets, and students who participate in a challenge to post throwback formal photos on Thursday will be entered into a raffle to win a similar prize.
Social media is one of the only ways students can stay connected during the pandemic, PHS ASB social media officer Joelle Lok said. When nominees were posted online, 200 students voted within the first 20 minutes and over 600 votes have been tallied so far.
“We’re just trying to make the best out of every situation. All of the students are really struggling, especially with the cancellation of sports because that’s a big deal for our schools and our rivalry,” Lok said. “I think giving this little taste of what high school was helps people keep moving forward.”
The Bulldog versus Pride rivalry is important to students, but they’ve put that aside to stand alongside each other as royalty this week.
“Competition fuels everyone’s fire and since there are no clubs or sports or anything like that, this is a big deal for everyone and something where we can just come together,” Lok said.
The Crosstown Formal Court kings and queens will be announced Friday on each schools’ Instagram accounts, @igotopitman and @turlockhs. Backus believes the event can remind the community how to put aside their personal rivalries.
“We do have a lot of differences, especially right now, but at the end of the day if you want to have fun and come together it’s possible,” he said. “There can always be fun, you just have to be safe and smart.”