MORP goes to the circus

Hemet High School went ‘Under the Big Top’ entertaining circus-themed dance during storm

Photos by Corey Evan/The Valley Chronicle
Talk about vertical enhancement!

■ By Corey Evan / Reporter

Many high schoolers look forward to dressing up for Prom at the end of the year. But in the meantime, they like to dress down and have more laidback fun. For students at Hemet High School, that fun came in the form of the 2018 MORP dance on Friday, March 16. For those who aren’t aware, “MORP” is just “PROM” in reverse. Instead of tuxedos, gowns and dress shoes which make your feet mad; you dress casual, wear comfortable shoes, and just have a good time. No tricks, no traps.
Carrying a circus theme with carnival food fare, rides, a photo booth and even a petting zoo, MORP took place under the stars—or in this case, clouds—and filled the Von Driska Field with as much fun as a real circus. It was dubbed “Hemet High under the Big Top.”

Students shimmy up a storm under the tent, as a real storm brews outside.

This year’s event also had circus performers supplied by the YMCA, including stilt walkers! The HHS Grad Night Committee was also present, hosting free carnival games with an old-fashioned feel that was well-suited for such an event.
HHS Activities Director Al Fernandes was the de facto ringmaster of this circus. “We sat down in November and started planning this,” said Fernandes. “This is the result! Last year, we had 864 students attend. This year, the numbers are way down because of the weather.”
510 students bought tickets during presale, including friends of students coming from around the valley, with dozens more buying tickets at the door. The goal was 600, and Fernandes cites social media for helping get the word out. “[Students texted] their friends on social media and [said] ‘Hey you’re missing out! You need to get here!’”
Student chairs Madison McComas, and Simone and Lauren Wojcik helped Fernandes come up with the theme and helped “put up the big top,” so to speak.
Originally, the dance was to have an authentic circus tent, which would have been a boon for the winter weather this evening, but at the last minute, the activities committee nixed it. “We cut that back, it was going to be a lot bigger,” said Fernandes. “We decided to put our money elsewhere. And then of course, the weather turns south and we’re thinking we probably should have left that the way it was.”
Thankfully, no rain fell on these circus goers. That held off until morning.

What would a circus theme be without party animals?

MORP also tied into Hemet High’s “Clash of the Classes,” which saw students competing in on-campus activities to determine which anticipated graduating class was the most epic. To show class pride, students wore shirts and outfits with their class color, or purchased “Clash of the Classes” t-shirts in their class color (the freshmen class of 2021 wore yellow, the sophomores of 2020 were in blue, the juniors of 2019 sported green and the seniors of 2018 rocked red).
According to Fernandes, Scoring was based on points for the five different dress-up days (each with its own theme); lunchtime games, numbers and quality of signs, decorations at the school assembly, and points for the BEST class dance at the assembly.
At the end of the night, after students played, danced and ate the evening up, the winner was announced; The sophomores were the 2018 champions! That was an unexpected surprise, wasn’t it?
Fernandes thanks Dr. Emily Shaw and her administrative team, and the associated student body for their help making this MORP possible.
So what will be next year’s theme? Will it pay homage to another famous event like MORPchella 2017? Will it time warp us to another millennium? Students, keep your eyes peeled for the daily bulletin at to keep track of this and other future Hemet High events!

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