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South Carolina Honors College

Letting loose and having fun: Students celebrate first gala ‘Under the Stars’

By Sara Slaughter

The night of Feb. 7 was cool but lively as students gathered in the lobby of the South Carolina State Museum in Columbia, dressed to the nines and prepared to dance the night away at the inaugural Honors College Student Gala.

The gala’s theme, “Under the Stars,” inspired revelers to dress in tuxedos and floor-length gowns, despite the black-tie optional dress code. The event heralded the nostalgia of a high school prom, a sentiment echoed by the playlist. Full of bops and tunes that many had danced to as gawky teenagers, the music throughout the night combined the best songs of the 2000s with the latest hits everyone could enjoy.

“The gala felt very ritzy,” says freshman Jack Bingham. “It was very well laid-out, beautifully decorated, and it had something for everybody.”

Honors College Dean Steven Lynn kicked off the evening, welcoming students and thanking the Dean’s Council for organizing the event. He encouraged attendees to let loose and have fun. And have fun they did. Some showed off their moves on the dance floor, while others enjoyed the dessert table flush with cake pops, fruit kebabs, brownies and hot chocolate. Still others posed for photos in front of twinkly lights reminiscent of a starry night, and a banner hand-painted by the freshmen of the Dean’s Council.

A free event, thanks to a generous donation from Honors College alumni Aaron and Candice Hark, ’02 and ’03, the gala’s main goal was to bring underclassmen and upperclassmen together, according to Honors College sophomore and Dean’s Council member Megan Chambers. With more than 600 students in attendance, Chambers says that goal was accomplished.

“I’m really proud of it,” she says.

The road to such a successful event was not short or easy. After being postponed earlier in the school year, many wondered if the gala would take place at all. But after approval was given for the venue and catering, the planning began, starting with the theme. The planning committee of 12 students chose “Under the Stars” as the theme and originally intended to hold the event in the museum’s planetarium, allowing attendees to truly dance under the stars.

“Sadly, that didn’t end up fitting into our budget, but since we all still liked the theme, we decided to keep it,” Chambers says.

Despite concerns by some students, there are no plans for the gala to replace the annual Y’all Ball, a semiformal dance for freshman Honors College and Capstone students at Top of Carolina. The gala serves a different purpose and will continue to be exclusive to honors students and open to all classes.

When Dean Lynn asked the council to plan the gala, they hoped it would become an annual tradition.

“Since the event went over so well, I have a pretty good feeling that we’ll get to do it again soon,” Chambers says.

Sara Slaughter is the Spring 2019 Summer Smith Taylor intern for the South Carolina Honors College.

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