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Mason High’s Prom Dress Swap, Free Tux Rental Reflect Economy

BTCdressesFliers line George Mason High School’s hallways for a “Be the Change” club Prom Dress Exchange. School counselors scramble to strike a free tux rental deal with a Men’s Warehouse store in Tysons Corner. Both are signs of the times in light of the school’s $50-a-person annual Prom scheduled for this Saturday.

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BE THE CHANGE club member, George Mason High School freshman Ginger Fischer, helps organize the club’s dress collection thus far after the group’s meeting earlier this week. (Photo: News-Press)

Fliers line George Mason High School’s hallways for a “Be the Change” club Prom Dress Exchange. School counselors scramble to strike a free tux rental deal with a Men’s Warehouse store in Tysons Corner. Both are signs of the times in light of the school’s $50-a-person annual Prom scheduled for this Saturday.

From professional updos to limousine rentals, school counselors and one student club are aiming to cut the costs juniors and seniors will endure by offering low- and no-cost formal attire options for  Mason’s “Prom 2010: City of Lights.”

“Prom is an important transition from high school to college for many students. It’s one of the last times they party with their friends before they graduate. But it’s also the end of the school year. We’re in the middle of a recession and prom can get expensive,” GMHS Substitute Guidance Counselor Monique Cowell told the News-Press in an interview earlier this week.

Mason’s “Be the Change (BTC)” club has been inviting students to buy or borrow a dress for a $15 deposit through its first bi-annual Prom and Homecoming Dress Exchange program.

Club sponsor and Mason math teacher Joel Block told the News-Press nearly 30 dresses have been collected and two girls have already picked up their low-cost gowns.

But the option isn’t just for girls with little income. “Even if they can afford a dress, it may not be the best way to use their money right now,” he said.

Block said the idea for the dress exchange was inspired by Arlington County Public Schools’ “Formals for Five.” The five area high schools join forces every year to sell $5 donated prom dresses to their students.

After overhearing a few of his own students saying they may not go to Prom because it’s “too expensive,” Block challenged BTC club members brainstorm a solution. The highschoolers proposed a loan-basis exchange program with the an incentive for borrowers to return the dress and get their money back, all while keeping the dress collection fully stocked.

Students who want to keep their dresses can do so. Their original deposits will go towards BTC club’s efforts to have the worn dresses dry cleaned after each use.

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GMHS MATH TEACHER and Be the Change club sponsor, Joel Block. (Photo: News-Press)

 

The club’s objective is to get the annual program off the ground this season and encourage students to donate their dresses to the cause after Saturday’s event.

“The goal this year is to get a supply that will be viable for the future, and for the range of sizes and shapes highschoolers come in,” said Block.

Mason High Sophomore Alyson Aguerrebere told the News-Press the exchange helps students from all backgrounds attend prom.

“Prom’s not just for the rich kids,” she said. As a BTC club member, Aguerrebere went on to note the exchange is “definitely discreet enough” so girls can come and shop as they please without feeling embarrassed.

Mason Freshman Ginger Fischer agreed, adding, “It’s not as though their names will be announced. And if they don’t have the money, it’s a great way to find a dress.”

And female students aren’t the only ones getting extra help this year. Men’s Warehouse clothing store in Tysons Corner agreed to rent free tuxes to Mason High students that counselors recommend to them. In line with BTC’s efforts, Cowell and her colleagues recently scanned their case loads to determine which students could benefit from a free tux rental. The students were then confidentially contacted and informed of their options.

Cowell said while only three boys took her up on her offer, she hopes to work alongside BTC club’s dress exchange next year to alert more students to the tux deal.

The local Men’s Warehouse store manager has already agreed to sign on with Mason High for next year’s Prom. Cowell added that if enough students chose to take advantage of the free tux rental, a representative of the men’s clothing store was willing to come to the school for on-site fittings.

Mason High’s Prom is this Saturday, May 15, beginning at 8:30 p.m. at the Westin hotel in Tysons Corner. Those who wish to donate new and used prom- and homecoming-appropriate gown can drop attire off to Joel Block’s attention at George Mason High School’s (7124 Leesburg Pike, Falls Church) main office.