New policies for FON

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By Bindu Koyi and Jacqueline Woo, staff writers

With the start of the month of December comes the initiation of one of the most highly anticipated productions at Townsend Harris High School: the Festival of Nations. A kickoff rally for the Festival of Nations (FON) was held on December 4 in a packed auditorium full of students eagerly awaiting the traditional showcasing of all the FON groups before proceeding to sign up for groups they would like to join. However, this year’s rally took a different turn and began with a shocking announcement regarding new policies being implemented for FON.

Among the most controversial policies are the limitations on the number of FON groups students can join and the duration of the dance routines. Students may only join a maximum of two FON groups, with the exception of seniors, who can join a maximum of three groups. For the larger FON groups, each dance is restricted to four minutes in length, whereas the smaller FON groups are restricted to two and a half minutes.

The main motive for applying new regulations this year is to reduce the amount of time students spend on preparing for FON. Ellen Fee, the Assistant Principal of Organization, Health, and Physical Education, stated, “It is our responsibility as administrators to create safe boundaries for you to have effective and fun practices without hurting any other areas of your life like family, responsibilities at home, or academics.” Additionally, there have been issues in the past where students commit themselves to too many FON groups and struggle to attend all the practice meetings. The restrictions implemented this year makes it “easier for FON group leaders to hold practices when all their dancers are present and not practicing with other groups,” Ms. Fee explained.

Despite the good intentions from which these new guidelines stemmed, many FON leaders have expressed their dismay towards the new policies. Yathika Challapalli, a leader of Bollywood FON, proclaimed, “The senior limit to three FONs doesn’t really make any sense to me since seniors always have free bands to learn their dances. Also it’s the last year we [seniors] can ever join a FON.” Being a senior herself, she laments that her graduating class cannot partake in FON to the fullest extent during their final year in this school.

Chinese Fan FON leaders Emily Lam and Emily Li agreed with Yathika’s perspective, but also acknowledged that there are benefits to the new rules. They contended, “These policies will allow students to plan out their time and us as leaders to teach the dances more efficiently, considering Chinese Fan is very group-oriented in terms of the performance.”

While the new guidelines were meant to lighten up schedules of busy students and alleviate stress, Carmela Lopez, one of the Filipino FON leaders, asserted that the opposite effect will ensue. She stated, “By having to modify established dances, decide who to cut, and figure out how to make sure people have enough stage time,” the authenticity of the dances will be lost and the culture being represented will not be adequately displayed.