The excitement of graduation can sometimes be overshadowed by the cost of a prom, especially for students who may not be able to dish out for a new dress.
Pile on top of that the pressure to have hair and makeup done, along with a new pair of shoes, and quickly what’s supposed to be one of the most exciting nights of a grad’s life up to that point can become one of the most dreaded.
Unnecessarily so, says the graduating class of Bishops College, which has started an initiative to make sure everybody has a great prom night. And now they want the help of the community to make sure nobody is left out.
Prom Closet was spearheaded by teacher Joanne Mercer, who started collecting dresses and creating an entire boutique atmosphere in the school.
The idea is to provide female students with quality dresses to help remove financial barriers associated with prom activities.
Mercer says she would have started Prom Closet in September, but it was difficult to gauge just how many students would benefit from such an endeavour. It being a difficult topic for people to talk about, it was hard to tell how many students needed it. So the school tackled it from the donation side instead to see how many dresses it could collect.
“So we decided we were just going to take on the initiative and see how much response we could get from the community,” Mercer says.
The response was great. They already have more than 50 dresses, says Mercer, and have many more on the way.
Past graduates have brought in dresses, and Ms. Achievement Newfoundland and Labrador, Kandice Power, is bringing in 15 dresses this week in support of the initiative.
Bishops College has also received support from local businesses such as Deluxe Drycleaners, Formal Sales Rentals, the Bridal Suite and Lady Taylor. Public response has brought in suits and gifts cards for hair and makeup, as well.
“It’s a great project,” says Mercer, adding that they’re already seeing the results of Prom Closet through some girls.
“They’ve been in the room taking pictures of dresses and bringing them home to show Mom. They’re just so excited that they’re actually going to have a dress.”
In the past, there have been some students who probably couldn’t afford the cost of prom night, and the school always forfeited the price of tickets, and staff often chipped in to help students out with the cost of the rest, she says.
But recent times have called for a project like Prom Closet, says Mercer.
“It just seems to be an increase of numbers of people that just can’t afford to go.”
The school has created a boutique in the school, complete with a sitting area so family or friends can come in as a student picks out a dress.
Mercer says it will be kept as a common area so that next year the boutique will be up and running again.
The boutique has many styles and sizes, says Mercer. Organizers only ask that anybody using a dress bring it back so another student can wear it in the future.
They’re also asking people who have a dress to donate to drop it off at the school’s main office at 190 Penneywell Rd.
Prom night is May 10.