Relieving prom pressure

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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.

josh.pennell@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Bishops College

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Recent comments

  • LR
    March 15, 2013 - 10:40

    These are the type of people we have as ``business men`` in our province. I hope that some day you realize how horrible your comments were on this post, I can also gather that you must be like this in your everyday life towards many other subjects. For your children that are graduating, I hope you never embarass them with you`re ignorant mind, and I hope they see how absolutely disgusting it is to treat others differently because of money and become great people. It is 2013 and we still have such small minded people, maybe you should return those degrees in law and business and head back to kindergarten to learn basic manners.

  • Bishops College Graduate
    March 14, 2013 - 14:58

    To "A Business Man": Honestly, I can not comprehend where you are coming from. I do not understand why you are so against this excellent initiative. How can you say that if a child's parents can not afford to spend thousands of dollars on prom, should stay home? Prom is all about being together with classmates and celebrating the end of their grade school career; It's not about who can spend the most on things such as dresses and hairdos. How can you possibly think that it is fair for a child who's family isn't privileged enough to dish out money as easily as you, to not be able to enjoy their high school prom - one thing that is looked forward to by so many children for years and years. What would you do if you couldn't afford your child's prom, and you had to tell them, "Sorry, I don't have $3000 to spend on your dress, hair, nails, etc. for you to go to prom. I can't let you ruin it for the other kids by providing you with the best I can afford, so you are just going to have to stay home." It baffles me how you think that is fair. What about families who can't afford to put food on the table? Are soup kitchens, Christmas hampers, etc. a bad idea because YOU don't need them, and can afford the best of the best? If they can't afford to eat, should they just not eat at all? Try picturing yourself in someone else's shoes. It's not that these people don't care enough to provide for their children. I'm sure they strive to do the best they can with the resources that they have. Just because YOU can afford to spend $3000, doesn't mean YOU should ruin the fun for the kids who can't afford what you can, Mr. Scrooge.

  • LR
    March 14, 2013 - 13:07

    To the "business man" who is leaving such cruel comments. I am a high school student, and yes although you might think 2000 dollars isn't a lot of money but when you put into perspective that some people are single parents, on social assistance, dying of illness's, living in low income housing, have a child themselves, don't live at home. IT IS EXPENSIVE! Not everyone had the opportunity such as you to go to law school and do all those righteous things for your family. Not everyone thinks of prom as pocket change. It is a huge dip in someone's wallet. Although I won't be wearing a dress from this boutique, and my mother has paid for all my prom expenses at another school. I do live in low income housing, my father became ill with cancer and had to put schooling on hold, so we are living off my mothers income. It isn't always so easy, please be more courteous and thoughtful for others. If you say you have so much money to spend, why not donate some for the less fortunate girls who can't go to prom because of unfortunate circumstances? Sincerely, a 17 year old girl who is graduating and I believe you are being a very ignorant and arrogant person.

  • LR
    March 14, 2013 - 13:06

    To the "business man" who is leaving such cruel comments. I am a high school student, and yes although you might think 2000 dollars isn't a lot of money but when you put into perspective that some people are single parents, on social assistance, dying of illness's, living in low income housing, have a child themselves, don't live at home. IT IS EXPENSIVE! Not everyone had the opportunity such as you to go to law school and do all those righteous things for your family. Not everyone thinks of prom as pocket change. It is a huge dip in someone's wallet. Although I won't be wearing a dress from this boutique, and my mother has paid for all my prom expenses at another school. I do live in low income housing, my father became ill with cancer and had to put schooling on hold, so we are living off my mothers income. It isn't always so easy, please be more courteous and thoughtful for others. If you say you have so much money to spend, why not donate some for the less fortunate girls who can't go to prom because of unfortunate circumstances? Sincerely, a 17 year old girl who is graduating and I believe you are being a very ignorant and arrogant person.

  • a business man
    March 14, 2013 - 09:02

    Sorry, I did not put myself through law school and business school so that I would end up buying used clothing for my children. They deserve better than than. Prom is a once in a life time milestone to be celebrated to the greatest extravagance possible. For my kids, I pay for hair, new clothes, new shoes, fresh haircut, some new jewelery, and more. Money should not be an issue when it comes to something like prom. There is nothing wrong with spending a few thousand dollars on prom. After all, the kids only live once, and money is just money. Anyway, my child will be attending prom wearing anything she wants. She will not be looking at price tags when picking her dress. We are having a professional hairstylist come to the house to do her hair and her friends' hair. Their limo is a 2012 model. I expect that the whole thing will end up costing me at least $3000, and I am happy to pay for it.

    • Mother of a Son
      March 14, 2013 - 12:52

      First of all I would like to congradulate you on your hard work and success in your professional life.That being said profession and financial status are not what is of importance here,neither are hair, dresses makeup or cars. What is important is the acknowledgment and celebration of the educational accomplishments of each and everyone of those students regardless of financial status. May I suggest that if you are that financially secure that you would consider making a donation to the prom closet to ensure that girls other that your own can enjoy the same special attention that your daughter will receieve that day. No one student should be exempted from their prom due to fiancial hardship or made feel any less because they don't have $3000 for dress,hair,makeup and a limo!!!!

    • To a business man...
      March 14, 2013 - 13:15

      To 'A Business Man'- How DARE you imply that parent's who cannot afford to spent $3000 on prom do not think their children deserve the best or wouldn't be happy to pay if they could. Many parents, even 'professionals' like yourself, cannot afford to spend that amount of money on material things. These teenagers will now have the opportunity to make memories and celebrate what the night is really about- their graduation from high school. Perhaps their parents would rather spend $3000 on something more helpful like, I don't know, a year of university at MUN. You should be ashamed of yourself.

  • Maureen
    March 10, 2013 - 03:44

    I am also wondering if this wonderful service is available to students from other schools

  • Em
    March 08, 2013 - 12:10

    Are they making this available to students from other High Schools?

  • wavy
    March 08, 2013 - 08:45

    Fantastic! Prom dresses are a huge burden on some families. I think this is an awesome idea and great way to make sure no one is left out, feels embarrassed or is dreading prom night just because they can't afford an expensive new dress. Bravo to Ms. Mercer and the girls for taking the initiative and spearheading such a project. I hope this sort of thing catches on with other schools.

  • An awesome idea.
    March 08, 2013 - 07:33

    Hats off to the teacher for helping make everyone's dream come true. I have a daughter who graduates next year and I am dreading the cost that will be put upon us and both my husband and I have decent jobs. While I hope they all enjoy their prom, I feel the school board should step in and put restrictions in place. It's costing some families more to outfit a girl for prom than a wedding. Something not right with that when a highschool prom costs in excess of $2000.

    • a business man
      March 14, 2013 - 09:07

      why would the board step in an put restrictions in place? to limit the amount of fun the children can have. Look, I feel sorry for you because you are dreading the cost, I feel that the board should not put any restrictions in place. $2000 is not a lot of money, especially when it comes to something as important as prom. If you cannot afford it, stay home! Don't ruin the fun for the others because you cannot participate! You say you have a good job, but why not get a better job that pays more? why is holding back others your solution. I put myself through law school and business school for the sole purpose of providing my family with the best of the best. The school board has no right to restrict my doing so, and if they try, I will openly ignore their restrictions. What can the really do about it.

  • Bj
    March 08, 2013 - 07:17

    What a great idea! Many students can't afford to go to their prom. Some schools have decided to get rid of proms and have cheaper functions-after all,what great achievement do proms celebrate?

  • Mellie
    March 08, 2013 - 07:04

    I think this is a excellant Idea :) There are alot of students out there with families that can bearly sent there kids to school with a lunch let Alone have funds for them to go to thier grad .. GREAT IDEA.!!! I have a dress in my closet I will be dropping off next week.. I also went to Bishops :) Great school