Last Saturday, Metea Valley took part in District 204’s first year in hosting a prom dress event. The Valley Runway Project, held at Graham Elementary School, allowed students from the three area high schools to shop for new and gently used prom dresses from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.
With 10,000 high school kids in the district, and 21 percent of District 204’s students receiving free or reduced lunch, event organizers felt that there’s a major need for a program like this. “Dean Rowe and I took a group of seniors last year to Elgin’s Cinderella Closet, and nine of our girls were able to get dresses. On the way back I was talking to Dean Rowe, ‘Why do we not have this program in our district?’” organizer Ann Cluxton said.
Last May, people were able to donate their used prom dresses in the Metea Valley Runway Drive. Those same dresses were hung up on racks during the event. “It was an effort of getting grant money to pay for racks and having a place to store them. So it took us about 9 months to get this for this to all be ready,” Cluxton said.
Organizers made sure to try to be able to cater everyone who might show up to provide an inclusive experience. In addition to the donated dresses, organizers purchased extra dresses in the sizes that were not primarily represented in the dresses collected last May.
Although it’s only the first year that District 204 is taking part in it, it was fairly successful. “Their faces were just beaming with smiles. It’s been incredible and extremely fun,” Cluxton said.
The volunteers who helped people find dresses, referred to as “fairy godmothers,” hope to continue this tradition for years to come. 23 of the 24 girls who came in were able to leave with dresses.