Joey Gissendaner on the Grand Fete

An Atypical Prom

The Westminster School at Oak Mountain is, by its very essence, different from all the schools that surround it. Although the first thought that comes to mind may be the unique curriculum offered at the school, it is the culture and personalities of the students that most sets the school apart. As students we seek to exemplify the teachings of Christ in everything we do. We pursue excellence through sports, academics, and art to glorify Him who gave us our talents. We seek to treat other students, especially those younger than us, as we would want to be treated in their situations. And we live by the motto “In the world but not of the world.” It is the last of these that helps explain the utter uniqueness of what we call “the Grand Fete”.

At its core the Grand Fete is the Westminster parallel to Prom for all high school grades. Everyone in attendance dresses their best. There is food, toast to seniors, and of course dancing. But Westminster offers a different approach. Instead of tuxes and long ballroom gowns, party-goers dress in blazers and slacks and shorter, less expensive dresses. For the gentlemen, the costs run anywhere from nothing, wearing a school blazer and khakis, to hundreds of dollars for a new suit. However, anything he buys can easily be repurposed to wear to school or any other function, as is often the case. For the ladies the costs are dramatically lower, especially for the dress. An average prom dress will run anywhere from 100 to 700 dollars. However, the average dress for Fete costs no more than 200 dollars. And as with the suits of the gentlemen, the ladies dresses can be worn again, being that they are simple, practical, and cute.

Although the attire is different, the single most unique aspect of Fete is the dancing. The dancing at Prom can be described as sporadic and carnal, having no form or idea in mind, but simply what feels right to the “dancer”. The mass of party-goers looks more like a chaotic mob of random motion, rather than a group of people dancing. None of this is the case at Fete. For the week before Fete those who will attend the party attend a swing dance class held by one of the teachers. They learn the basic structure of swing and are encouraged to learn more on their own. There are always a few students every year that learn the more complex moves, becoming center pieces of the dance. On the night of Fete after dinner, the dancing begins. The dancing has form and rhythm, purpose and style. The dancers are not mobs of wild beast but structured human beings. The dance is not only pleasing to the eyes but also to the body. Although one is not moving exactly as he wants there is still enough variation in the dancing to make it fun.

Fete is a unique experience not able to be found in other schools. It is just one of the many things that makes Westminster great.

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