School ends deb ball tradition

A debate into the relevance of debutant balls in today’s society has arisen after a school announced the ball would no longer continue after 2013.

Following Lavalla Catholic College’s announcement in its recent newsletter, opinions were mixed on the axing with other schools in the Latrobe Valley indicating their debutant balls would continue.

In the 10 September newsletter Lavalla principal Erica Pegorer advised parents the school “will not be in a position to offer its facilities, staff or resources” to organise deb balls after 2013.

Ms Pegorer said the decision came after “lengthy discussions and much deep consideration” with school council and there were several factors involved in the decision.

Some reasons cited included “the tension between offering this opportunity to students and creating an event which might be cost prohibitive to some” and “the debutante ball and all its preparations become the focus of year 11s to the detriment of their studies”.

The announcement also questioned the relevance of deb balls saying “most young people are socially very active” and there was no longer a sense of “being received into polite society”.

Speaking to The Express, Ms Pegorer suggested parents who still wanted to have their child take part in a deb should “work with your local parish or service groups to perhaps provide this activity through another venue”.

“I’m in conversation with parents who are concerned with this announcement and they are investigating other ways they could hold a deb,” she said.

“We are just not allocating our (school) resources to holding a deb.”

Ms Pegorer invited students to suggest alternative formal college events to their campus’ welfare and wellbeing leader.

“If students want a social function we’re open to conversations. It’s just not going to be a deb ball,” she said.

Lowanna College assistant principal Brian McKenzie said his school would continue holding deb balls.

“The balls we held Tuesday and Wednesday last week were extremely successful,” Mr McKenzie said.

“As long as there’s a demand from the community we will continue to put on the deb.”

Kurnai College Gippsland Education Precinct principal Matt Jobling said although planning and putting on the deb took “significant effort from all involved” it was “a social highlight for students” and one that Kurnai College would continue to offer into the future.

He said there were many benefits to students participating in deb balls, including practicing commitment to rehearsals, working together as a group and getting them outside of their comfort zone.

“The traditional meaning may not be as relevant today, but as a function the students really look forward to it and get a lot out of it,” Mr Jobling said.

He acknowledged other concerns Lavalla had cited, including costs to parents and distracting students from studies.

“We understand some parents want to spend more than others,” he said.

“We keep our costs as low as possible and only charge enough to recover costs from outside parties.

“During the four weeks of rehearsal leading up to the deb, it can (be a distraction) to a degree, but we value the experience students get from participating and encourage them to balance their time as they would with other activities.”

The Express’ Facebook readers had their say on deb balls and whether it was an outdated tradition or night of dressing up and having fun.

Felicia Boardman I wonder what their reason is? I did not do my deb at Traralgon High..don’t regret it either. I did go along to my siblings though at St Pauls and they loved it. A lot of stress on my parents though. Financially and getting everything organised.

Zara Dyke It’s a great opportunity to get to know the year level, dress up and have fun, and make the parents and grandparents happy. It brings family and friends together and it was certainly one of my highlights in school.

Julia Auciello About time! I’m an ex-Lavalla student and while I loved the deb, it really is a waste of money for families. It’s an out dated tradition which has no real meaning in society today.

Sue Dietrich Who is going to teach the young people skills to survive in society if not the schools? Schools should be teaching everything to enable young people to fit in at structured functions such as weddings, bat mitzvahs, corporate functions… are we going to enable our youth and give them wings or sentence them to feeling they need to sit more proper functions out? Teach the children skills with which they can climb corporate and social ladders. Dancing and socialising and grace are all needed skills.

Rhonni Dingey This is very sad. Our school started this lovely tradition in 2008 as “presentation” ball so the boys and the girls equally were recognised. Both my daughter and son have participated in this evening and both have said that it was one of the best memories of being a secondary student. It brings all about a sense of community when all of their family and friends gather to see them dance and be presented.

Janelle Lipman very sad i loved my deb and i did it cheaply i got my dress for $50 coz it was on sale

Rebecca Boyes Troughton Thankgod!!!! The traditional reasons behind the debutant are dated and don’t reflect today’s society. I did mine in 1990 and I thought it was a waste of money and is nothing more than a beauty contest! The kids have formals, graduations and everything these days so I say good riddance!

Lauren Kirkland I think it’s sad that society is losing all of the old traditions, when we did our deb it was a huge highlight. We didn’t care what the meaning behind it was, it just felt like a rite of passage. Going deb dress shopping with my mum was a lovely bonding experience, it taught the boys a little bit of chivalry…where’s the harm? And what about our cultural values? Doing the deb at high school is part of Australian culture…I think there’s nothing wrong with progression but surely there’s nothing harmful about the old traditional deb.

Kate Buckley I think it’s sad! My son will be in year 11 at Lavalla in 2014 and he is extremely disappointed, as are his friends. These children will be the first to miss out on a fantastic night and a lifetime of memories! I’m very disappointed that the letter said “after discussions”…….. Discussions with who? It certainly wasn’t the Lavalla families! And as for out dated, what a load of rubbish! I think it should’ve been discussed as a whole school before making any permanent changes!