What began with hopeful young boys filling out girls' dance cards more than 50 years ago has evolved to organized dances with "lots of fun and popular music that kids want to dance to," said parent coordinator Kristi Kaparos about the 59th annual Upper Arlington Freshman Dinner Dance Club.
The first of the three dance clubs was held Jan. 26 at the Amelita Mirolo Barn. The theme was western casual, so blue jeans were acceptable. February's dance will be a Mardi Gras party Feb. 23 at Our Lady of Victory and a finale dinner March 23 at Scioto Country Club will require formal wear.
Kaparos said the funds raised by the event will subsidize a senior celebration for each class.
"We try to keep costs low to have a really great send-off party when they graduate," she said. "Also, as freshmen, they are still getting to know each other, so the dances are just a fun social setting where they can continue to get to know each other."
Parent coordinator Laura Raish said invitations were sent to all registered freshmen last November. The cost of the program is $80.
"The reason for the concept of a dinner dance is to familiarize freshmen on how to attend a dinner-dance experience," she said. "Each dance has an experienced DJ that makes the evening fun for everyone."
Raish said one parent commented that the program builds off of the teen dance parties from middle school.
"She said even today her older kids remember being taught dance moves that they all learned together during dance club," Raish said.
Kaparos said students begin the dance-club experience in middle school.
"Students can participate in a six-week program called Junior Dance Club," she said. "This is led by an instructor and teaches them how to properly dance with a partner."
Raish said parents chaperone the Freshman Dinner Dance and that it is not a school-sponsored event.
Upper Arlington High School Principal Emilie Greenwald said, "I know students always come back from the Freshman Dinner Dances buzzing about how fun they are."
Kaparos said the Feb. 23 dance will have a service element. "The theme will be Mardi Gras and will also have a charity element to it," she said. "We will accept snack donations for a teen shelter."
She said the committee that coordinates the dance is made up of parent volunteers.
"I was asked to be on the committee last year when I had a freshman and then I have a freshman this year and another coming up in two years, so it is a good way to stay involved," she said.
In addition to Raish, committee members include Kaparos, Susan Baker, Christy Zadnick, Amy Brown, Lisa Tzagournis, Jenifer Carlin and Tonya Moul.
"I love doing things that help the kids have a positive school experience," said Raish.