by Phoebe Sirotin
Studniówka is an annual tradition here at ASW, where seniors celebrate the landmark of 100 days until the IB exams. The celebration originated several years ago, when a group of Polish students made the proposal to include Studniówka as part of the school’s annual festivities. In Polish schools, Studniówka is celebrated as the 100 days before the Matura, which is the Polish equivalent of the IB.
Studniówka is somewhat like a ball, in which the seniors, parents and teachers celebrate in a formal setting, usually a hotel. It lasts most of the night and, according to Ms. Hydzik, one of the teacher facilitators of the event, “it’s a very important event in the life of Polish high school students.”
When asked what differences and similarities the ASW Studniówka shares with the Polish one, Ms. Hydzik explained that“the traditional Studniówka in Polish schools … starts off with a formal dance called the Polonez, a very intricate dance. … Normally teachers … take part in this official opening of the Studniówka. And so it was felt that for ASW, it would be a really good thing if we could have all the senior class dancing the Polonez, which is how it started. There are certain traditions that go with that, for example, the girls dress up in really beautiful ball gowns, all the boys wear suits – so it’s very formal and elegant. … Parents are there, teachers are there, and everybody watches the dance. … There’s a formal reception afterwards, and that’s it for the ASW part.”
After the opening ceremony and the Polonez, an after-dance reception takes place. During this time, the principal usually gives a speech and the students and teachers exchange small gifts.
In terms of practice, according to Ms. Hydzik, “The dance practices are going very well … This year [the rehearsals are a bit] … more challenging because [they] happen in the morning [due to schedule changes] … but it’s going really, really well – the dance instructors are really happy. Most of the people in the class of 2018 are taking part in this, and I think everybody’s sort of feeling okay.”
Although many students find the Studniówka to be an enjoyable experience, it is not for everyone. As Ms. Hydzik said, “You can’t make something like this [mandatory], … for some people this is absolutely not what they want to do, and it would be counterproductive to do that. At the same time, everybody is encouraged, because this is a senior class event. The class starts with a retreat in September, and then really this January event is probably the last time the class will have an event of its own where they will all be together.”
Ms. Hydzik believes the highlight of the evening is always the Polonez. Her personal opinion is that “it is quite amazing to see so many beautifully dressed and beautiful young people doing this amazing, intricate dance and having fun. It is a real fun event.”
One 10th grade Studniówka attendee, Ola N., has a similar outlook. She thinks “it’s a great experience that will be useful in my Senior year. Before this I only knew that in Studniówka people danced the Polonez and English Waltz, but I didn’t know about the tradition with the garters or how much they practiced.”
Furthermore, she feels similarly to Ms. Hydzik that the Studniówka is an important addition to our school. She believes that “because we are a school located in Poland, it’s important that we incorporate some Polish traditions in our lives. Studniówka is a tradition that has become a part of ASW, the students enjoy it because it’s like a break from the stress, and there’s no reason why it shouldn’t be continued.”
Finally, she has some advice for future Studniówka goers: “I would recommend missing as little practices as possible! Even when just one couple is missing, it affects other people’s positions in the dance too!”