It wasn’t sophomores Ethan Vincente and Hailey Turco’s first dance, but this one had a unique tropical twist.
On Sept. 23, Highland Park High School students gathered for the annual fall Hi-Lites dance, which has become one of the school’s most celebrated traditions.
Unlike for other dances hosted at the school, girls are responsible for inviting boys and, instead of dressing up in blazers and dresses, students attend in costume, based on various themes.
The dances are managed by the school’s Hi-Lites club, which girls must join to attend the dance. Proceeds raised from the event sponsor a child registered with the Make-A-Wish Foundation. This year’s theme, “The Jungle,” had couples attending as explorers and wild animals.
Hailey and her date Ethan opted for matching outfits and wore identical cheetah shirts. She asked him to the dance the traditional Hi-Lites way — with a handmade sign and a (not so) surprise visit.
“It wasn’t anything super big, but it was really good,” Ethan said. Hailey’s friend Sophie Jejurikar texted Ethan ahead of time to make sure he wasn’t sweaty from tennis practice. After getting the all clear, Hailey arrived on his front porch a little while later to make the ask.
Planning their outfits was a little trickier.
“We ended up having to order another shirt on short notice because the shirt we originally ordered wasn’t going to ship on time,” Ethan said.
With a date and an outfit, all that was left was the dance itself. After gathering for a few photos with friends, Ethan and Hailey headed to the high school auditorium for an evening full of strobe lights, dancing, and loud music, followed by an after party.
“I really enjoyed the after party. The dances can be really hectic— and I love them— but some-times it’s just more fun to chill with your friends,” Hailey said. Ethan agreed.
“My favorite part was playing in the pool at Hailey’s house with all my friends,” he said. “We left at one in the morning.”
Indeed, one of the most quintessential aspects of Hi-Lites is the company shared afterwards.
“It’s like the group I hang out with every weekend,” Hailey said. “They’re all my friends, and that’s the biggest thing.”
Spencer Allan is a junior at Highland Park High School.