A tiger head mask, loud music, dancing for hours, and an appetizing buffet. The 2022 Winter Banquet in December gave HBA students many moments to remember as they ended their first semester of school.

Held at the Waikiki Beach hotel, the banquet took place on December 19. Close to 300 high school students attended the event, including non-HBA students who came as guests of HBA attendees.

This year, the event theme was “The Snow Queen’s Masquerade.” Sophomore Kellan Imaguchi, a member of the banquet committee, explained that the hope was to create an atmosphere fit for royalty alongside a winter theme. The banquet featured a mask contest, and also gave out awards to the best dressed.

For sophomore Megan Monico, who was attending her second high school banquet, the banquet was “a once in a lifetime experience.” Sophomore Samuel Ruan, who was attending his first banquet said that the best part was “the great times I had with my friends doing whatever we wanted to do.” 

Many students found the theme unique and exciting, and were motivated to spend hours handcrafting masks for the event. The final winner for best dressed was senior Ashlee Cole. Paired up with a red dress and a red-gold tiara, Cole’s handmade gold and red mask was full of intricate details. Classmate Samantha Cerda commented, “I didn’t have a mask but I saw [Ashlee’s]… I was impressed.” English teacher David McElrath, a chaperone for this year’s banquet, said, “My favorite mask was probably the tiger head; though I wish I hadn’t found out where it came from.”

From left to right: Katie Chen (23′), Arielle Cook (23′), and Ashlee Cole (23′) take a moment to enjoy their dresses and masks before heading to the Winter Banquet. Photo courtesy of Ashlee Cole (23′).

Students also appreciated the decorative details that greeted them at the banquet – tables adorned with a blue tablecloth, paper snowflakes, and party favors filled with hot cocoa, candy canes, and Hershey’s chocolates. “I wasn’t expecting [the goodie bags],” said Cerda. “It was really cool.”

Last year, with COVID safety precautions in place, students were discouraged from dancing closely together and were required to keep their masks on except when they were eating. Monico, who attended last year’s banquet, said that she liked this year’s venue better and appreciated that there were no more social distancing requirements. Cerda, who also went last year, appreciated the service and the better food.

After enjoying dinner and dessert— fish, salad, bread, and ice cream sundaes— banquet attendees were eager to get on the dance floor. As soon as the DJ played the first song, students packed the 8,000 square feet dance floor. They began to shout out the lyrics to “Super Bass” by Nicki Minaj and “Party in the USA” by Miley Cyrus. A few enthusiastic dancers climbed up on each other’s shoulders to jump to the beat; this was quickly interrupted by chaperones as they considered it a safety hazard.

Senior Katie Chen, head of the banquet committee, was happy with how the event turned out. “The committee will agree that the Winter Banquet was a huge success. My only hope is that the students were able to have fun and enjoy themselves, and will take advantage of the time they have in high school to make memories.”she said.