Winter break has arrived, and this year, students at Great Bend High School Kayettes kicked it off in grand style with the annual Holly Ball affair. This year’s theme, “Elegance under the sea,” transformed the high school gym into a magical coral reef, complete with giant clams, glittery seaweed and a sunken ship.
The decorating committee began preparations for the dance the Sunday following Thanksgiving, and were busy Friday evening, and into the night, lining the hallways leading up to the gym with rolls of blue on blue plastic sheeting, strings of lights, and paper shells and sand. Since moving the dance from the college to the high school years ago, Kayettes members have worked hard to make sure the experience is one worth the effort it takes to be able to go.
The club sponsors the dance each year, as it has for many years. In fact, Kayettes co-sponsor Karen Clark, the German language teacher, attended Holly Ball herself as a student back in the 1980s. This year, she and Barbara Harris, social studies teacher, led the girls service club in volunteering and decorating for the dance.
Volunteering, in fact, is one of the must-do components of becoming eligible to purchase a ticket to the dance. And this helps drive membership in the club. After all, in order to go, an attendee has to be an eligible Kayette, or a boy invited by one.
That’s right. It’s also Great Bend’s answer to the “Sadie Hawkins” dance. According to club chairs Kelsie and Kaylie Doll, the asking is just one of the fun traditions.
“You want to come up with the most creative way possible, but sometimes it’s hard,” Kelsie said. “Whether it’s cheesy or not, depending on who you ask, really makes it fun,” Kaylie said.
To be eligible, a member must earn three community service points. Two hours of community service earns one point.
While the girls want to go to Holly Ball, so they put in the community service, the community does benefit,” Clark said. “We have 200 to 250 girls each putting in four to six hours of service, so that’s a lot of community service.”
Let’s not forget the boost to the local economy.
Formal attire required
Much like prom, there is the dress, the shoes, the hair and nails, the young men’s outfits, the transportation to and from the dance, the photos, and the dinner before the dance. The twins said they’ve never traded dresses, but they know some friends that will wear friend’s dress to another occasion.
“It’s fun to dress up every once in awhile,” Kelsie said.
“It’s very formal compared to our homecoming dances,” Kaylie said. “It’s our chance for everyone t It makes it exciting.”
While some are content with using their own vehicles and sharing a meal prepared by parents at home, others go all out, arriving in limousines and party buses and attending dinner together at various restaurants in the area.
The Dolls and their friends planned to have a friend’s parent drive the group in an RV, first to Photos by Shane for group photos, then out to dinner, and finally to the dance, Kelsie said.
All of this doesn’t diminish the excitement of prom later in the year, the girls said.
“This dance is all about the girls asking the boys,” Kelsie said. “Prom is about what boy will ask you. They’re both fun.”
Holly sales are the only fundraiser the Kayettes do for the club each year. Proceeds not only fund the dance, they also help the club put on Mr. Perfect Panther. The comical male pageant is a fundraiser for which all the proceeds are donated to a local family in need each year.
“There are a lot of expenses for Mr. Perfect Panther. We feed the boys and give them t-shirts, and there are other incidentals too. By using Holly Ball sales proceeds, we can ensure one hundred percent of donations go directly to helping these families,” Clark said.
And Holly sales are also used to send members to camp in the summer and to provide scholarships each year.
Saturday morning and afternoon, beauty salons were filled with young ladies getting hair and nails done, and friends met at homes to dress and put on the last finishing touches for the formal affair. With temperatures dropping throughout the day, and snow anticipated to start sometime in the afternoon, the students were encouraged to wear coats and boots, and a place was made available outside the gym to check these items. Harris and Clark and the other chaperones settled in until midnight, when they would check off one more item on their holiday to-do list.