By Terry Harris
On May 15, A group of creative Surry County High School staff members, determined to partially make up for another school year of missed senior milestones, hosted a Dîner en Blanc for the classes of 2020 and 2021.
The school’s magical night of dinner and dancing was patterned after the first Dîner en Blanc, French for “Dinner in White,” begun by Frenchman François Pasquier nearly 30 years ago as an elegant picnic with friends. Commonly known as All White Party due to the requirement that attendees wear only white, the dress code was a way for friends easily to find each other in Paris, and since then similar elegant pop-up events have spread all around the globe.
Final preparations for Surry County’s own Dîner en Blanc began on Friday afternoon with the pitching of a large white tent. By Saturday night, senior sponsors and high school staff had transformed the football field into a breathtaking vision of white florals, sparkling candles, and crisp white linens and streamers.
Before dusk, students arrived dressed in their semi-formal all-white attire ranging from full white suits and linen pants to white jeans and sundresses. Softly glowing lights strung overhead and flickering candlelight at the tables illuminated the tent as the sun went down, signaling the real beginning of the event and heralding the crowning of Queen Bethany Parson and King Dwayne Bass.
To add to the festive atmosphere, DJ Breezy Corey Howell provided the music and party lights, and Creative Works catered the culinary treats - shrimp cocktail, chicken wings, and chicken salad croissants. White chocolate covered strawberries and mini cupcakes prepared by the SCHS culinary arts students provided a bit of special, themed sweetness.
SCHS Class of 2018 alumna Toni Newby of Toni Newby Photography even documented the night and provided printed photos for students on site as they posed for countless pictures and danced the night away under DJ Breezy’s strobe lights.
After the event, Assistant Principal Coach Pope remarked, “I was pleased that Dr. Sims, Mr. Wooden, and the School Board approved the event for the Class of 2021 as well as the Class of 2020. Both classes had one of the most important years of their lives altered by this global pandemic. It was great to see all of the smiling faces, some of which we hadn’t seen in person for more than a year. The kids really enjoyed themselves. I’m glad our wonderful faculty and staff were able to put together this memorable event for our students.”
Principal Courtney Ward added, “We were so happy to hold this event for our kids. With an outdoor event and mask-wearing, students finally were able to see each other and spend time together. Everyone was just so happy to see each other! It was a beautiful evening, and with the addition of the Class of 2020, it was like a mini-class reunion!”
Jacqueline Johnson, Teresa Johnson, Vanessa Scott, Gina Clayton, Judith West, and Patsy Jones received credit and accolades for orchestrating the event, planning, and arranging every detail.
Afterward, Johnson said, “I wanted this to be an extraordinary experience for our kids. When I think back on the night, I get excited because everyone had a really good time. At this point, all of us needed something exceptional and unique, and that’s what we got.”