Over the summer, Ms. Jacqueline Maxwell, Dr. Stephanie Cacace, Ms. Lindsey Yamaguchi, Ms. Amanda Brown, and Mrs. Kathy Brophy worked to examine and ensure gender equity in the school.
As part of this work, the group discussed the tradition of two separate women’s and men’s dances at the annual Thanksgiving pep-rally and approached the administration to discuss whether the dance reflected the school’s core values.
The issue was then brought to the attention of the Leadership Class, a group of class officers and student club leaders who orchestrate the pep-rally, who discussed further.
Over the last few years the faculty have discussed many prejudicial elements of the dances.
“The faculty found that overtime the Senior Men’s dance emerged to include homophobic elements and the Senior Women’s dance was rooted in older sexist elements,” Cacace said. “We wanted to get rid of those but to keep the best parts of the dance.”
The dance started as an all female dance for the football team. A group of older, female students at the school would dress as squaws, Native American women, for the then Red Raider football team. When the mascot was changed in the 1990’s the women no longer wore the squaw outfits while performing.
It wasn’t until 2008 that the school added a Senior Men’s dance. That started as an initiative to take the focus of the pep rally away from just the football team. Two male, senior class officers and three of their friends performed a lip synch to a Backstreet Boys song with choreography. Since then, the dance evolved into a full Senior Men’s dance of equal caliber to the Senior Women’s dance.
With this history in mind, the administration and leadership group decided to combine the traditional Senior Men and Senior Women dance into one Senior Dance.
“[The senior class officers] believe that a diverse dance group, one that includes people of any gender, will be a more creative and entertaining one,” said Senior Class President Tony Shu ’17. “The class officers have to be conscious of the school environment/culture that we are building and promoting; although the dances will only be performed for a few minutes, we believe that the combination of each small positive act or improvement, initiated by any student, can ultimately make our school a more united, inclusive, and exciting place.”