The Gift of Prom

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Prom season can be one of the most expensive seasons for high school graduates. Couple those expenses with the costs of childcare and one could be forced to decide between going glam or basic to their prom. That’s not the case for 80 Ballou Senior High School girls who are getting prom dresses, shoes and glam sessions donated to them this prom season.

With the help of Ward 8 Councilmember LaRuby May, Archalenna (Archie) Knight, Phenix Salon Suite, Johann’s Hairtique, One Click Entertainment and Fearless Girls, Inc. these groups are helping bring the prom season alive at Ballou. Knight partnered with Ashley Jennings, founder of Forever Fab Prom Expo to bring 80 free prom dresses to 80 low-income girls at the school.

Junior and senior girls at Ballou came into a setting filled with dresses, shoes, makeup and hair. They were allowed to pick out any dress they wanted, try it on and take it home. Girls were also given hair and makeup consultations on the spot ahead of the June prom.

Knight said she partnered to help donate the dresses because the cost of prom can get very expensive. “We wanted young ladies to feel like Cinderella with the full compliments to go to prom.”

Knight is also hosting an essay contest where one lucky winner will win a free makeover, to include hair and makeup and a limousine with a personal driver to get to and from the prom.

Jade Harris, a 21-year-old Ballou Stay student was inside the event picking out her dress. She said, “I didn’t think we would get free dresses, but it’s a wonderful thing to do especially for people who have kids.”
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Councilmember May, who also attended the event, concurred with Harris’s thoughts. “If all of us think about prom, it was a memorable experience. To be able to connect young people with resources to have that memorable experience makes it worth it,” May said.

The donations of the dresses and shoes came from the first annual prom expo Jennings hosted for high school students in the DC, Maryland and Virginia areas. Jennings said she created the event as a way to connect to the community. “I wanted to help inspire young girls and I thought prom would be a good idea.” The event was focused on donating the dresses to low-income students identified through partnering high schools. First, she collected dresses from local designers and stores and then held a runway show to highlight all the stylists, makeup artists and photographers who participated in the event. The 80 leftover dresses from the expo were donated to Ballou high school students.

Graduating senior, Diana, said she was so excited to be selected to get a free dress. “This is really a special moment for me,” she said before singing Rise Up, by Andra Day to the crowd.

Ballou High School Principal Dr. Yetunde Reeves said the event was greatly appreciated because the school hosts a lot of outstanding students. “I never want finances to limit a student’s experience and this is nice to have help because senior year can get very expensive. This event is showing our students that there are people out here who care.”

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