Dreams come trueA small office space at Superior High School has transformed into a dress shop. Dozens of dresses hang about the room, a tapestry of colors, styles and fabrics. But there are no price tags, no cashiers, just the promise of a special evening.
By: Maria Lockwood, Superior Telegram
A small office space at Superior High School has transformed into a dress shop. Dozens of dresses hang about the room, a tapestry of colors, styles and fabrics. But there are no price tags, no cashiers, just the promise of a special evening.
“Every girl dreams of going to a dance and looking spectacular,” said Cindy Johnson, whose daughter, Paige, is a senior at SHS. Generous dress donations from Johnson and her employer, maurices Inc., have given wings to those dreams. The dresses, which can be used for the winter semi-formal dance, graduation, prom, concerts, banquets or other events, are absolutely free.
“It’s been a wonderful opportunity for students who can’t afford a dress to get one,” said SHS Principal Kent Bergum. “Through the generosity of maurices, students – regardless of economic ability – are able to participate in one of the important social events of high school.”
Girls stop by the office, attached to Kandee Rosburg’s focus program classroom, to look through the dresses and search for the right one.
“It’s fun for them,” Rosburg said. “They’re excited.”
Students who qualify as being in economic need can get one free dress, handed out on a first-come, first-served basis.
“It’s really good for people who can’t afford it,” said Shayla Robinson, an SHS junior. “A lot of my friends picked out dresses.”
She looked through the racks Tuesday with fellow junior Samantha McClelland. Sizes ranged from small to extra large; styles included many shorter dresses and a smattering with longer skirts. Some were basic black, others were a rainbow of hues and prints.
“There’s a dress for everybody, really,” Shayla said.
The donations began last year. Johnson collected dresses she herself had purchased at a fraction of the retail cost and store samples provided by her employer and handed them to the SHS student council in the fall and again in the spring. The Superior woman was looking for a way to make a difference in the community, and dress donation was a good fit.
“So many kids don’t have the means of others,” she said, but taking part in a big event like the winter semi-formal “creates life-long memories kids will have forever.”
Members of the student council and advisor Marc Campbell began the dress program. Johnson knew it was well-received when her daughter mentioned she had seen many of the donated dresses on the dance floor during last year’s semi-formal and prom.
When donations continued this year, the operation became bigger. Rosburg offered her office space and a student in Bob DeMeyer’s changing lives class organized the dresses. Campbell and Mike Matejka, senior project coordinator, provided clothing racks.
Now, teachers and student council members are hoping to expand the process to accept donations from students, staff and the community. One student council member has even chosen the expansion as her senior project, Campbell said.
“We’re hoping people will donate dresses they have hanging in the closet that they bought and only wore once,” Rosburg said. In particular, they are looking for prom dresses.
Campbell said student council members are concentrating on the winter semi-formal right now. After the dance, which takes place from 8-11 p.m. Saturday at Barker’s Island Inn, they will look into expanding the program.
“This is a great example of how a simple idea can snowball into something really great with the help of other people and groups,” Campbell said.
Donated dresses should be next to new and relatively recent in terms of style. They can be brought to the SHS main office. For larger donations or more information, contact Rosburg at 394-8720, extension 147, or Campbell at extension 168.
Johnson said that donating helps both those who receive the dresses and those who give.
“It’s cool when you see kindness develop in a student,” she said. “Kids are what they see. When you see parents who give of themselves, it comes back.”
Even when Paige graduates this spring, Johnson plans to continue the bi-annual dress donations. And she encouraged the rest of the community to become involved.
“Everybody could be a part of it,” she said. Businesses or individuals could donate money to offset the cost of tickets – $15 per person or $25 for a couple this year – or tux rental. Coupons for free hair styling, nails or accessories like jewelry and purses would also be helpful.
Whether in big ways or small, Johnson said, everyone can make dreams come true.
“Look out the window and see what opportunities there are to give,” she said.