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Pace Forbids PDC for Students

Major fights, like one between sophomores Casey Shoulberg and Peyton Smith over Josh Mininberg, was one of the major reasons for the PDC ban. Photo: Mary Childs Hall

Each year, the Pre-Debutante Cotillion (PDC) hosts students from across Atlanta for their winter and spring dances. PDC is a privately held dance for high schoolers that has been a hallmark of the Buckhead community for almost 50 years. Although the PDC dances have been an important tradition for Atlanta students in the past, recent developments mean that Pace students will now be forbidden from attending PDC.

After countless meetings, the Pace Academy Board of Trustees decided that students will be banned from going to the dances for a long list of reasons.

The major problem with these dances is the distractions they create, with girls losing their minds, spending hectic weeks searching for a dress, date and makeup look. Young girls, especially freshmen, experience abnormally high stress levels in anticipation of the night.

From the moment invitations are sent out, there is constant chatter in the hallways about who each girl is planning to invite. It is all people think about for months, which has led to drama, including fights between girls over who they are asking.

Just last year, a major fist fight broke out in the Inman Center between two then-freshman girls, Peyton Smith and Casey Shoulberg, with each girl wanting to ask classmate Josh Mininberg to the dance. “Peyton knew that I planned to ask Josh and was working on my approach,” said Shoulberg. “When I found out that she went ahead and asked him before I could, I was livid.”

Not only did Smith and Shoulberg both suffer serious injuries, including black eyes, sprained wrists and chipped teeth, but their duel also strained their friendship. “In the long run, the drama that spreads throughout the school is not worth it,” said Head of Upper School Michael Gannon. “Therefore, we are prohibiting students from attending altogether.”

Another major issue is that students lose their motivation to do school work in the weeks leading up to the dance, as all they can think about is PDC. Even the week after the dance, students are especially tired and worn out from a late Sunday night, with a number of students calling in sick the following day. “Because of last year’s dance, I failed my physics test the next day, forgot to write my paper for English class and didn’t do my geometry homework,” said sophomore Reily Hamilton.

Also, the exclusiveness of this dance, with not all boys being asked, is a factor behind the board’s decision to outlaw Pace’s participation in the dances.

“Overall, our decision is in the best interest of all of our students, and we hope that it will help to reduce unnecessary stress as well as eliminate potential poor decisions,” said Mr. Gannon. “We understand that there will probably be backlash from students and parents, but I’m hopeful that families will carefully take into consideration our reasoning behind this new rule.”

This recent ruling especially affects the future freshman classes who will never be able to attend. Their hopes of memorable nights have been dashed, and each student is now filled with shock and resentment. Although some students hoped to rebel against the ban, the administration has made it clear that any student who attends the dance is subject to suspension for disregarding the rule.

With the PDC ban, Pace students will no longer look forward to that special night each year. However, Mr. Gannon stresses that with one less dance on their minds, students will be able to focus on their studies and eliminate distractions. But these few added benefits are nothing in comparison to the memories created each year at PDC. So while students from across Atlanta, like those from Lovett and Westminster, will still be able to attend the dance, Pace students will have to stay home.


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