Prom season is quickly approaching, but for some local students, finding the perfect dress can be as easy as shopping at school.
Chipley High School and Holmes County High School each offer a dress closet that is open to all students, regardless of income. Donations come in a variety of sizes and styles from previous students, parents, and shop owners, with dresses being available for events such as prom and homecoming.
CHS teacher Kristi Broom says the best part of helping with the dress closet is witnessing the students’ excitement when they come in to browse. “Watching these girls come in and get excited when they see the dresses is amazing,” said Broom. “It is exciting for me to see them get so excited.”
HCHS teacher Sierra Smith echoes that sentiment. “Seeing the girls’ faces light up, it’s great,” said Smith. “The look in their eyes just makes it all worth it.”
An average of between 10 and 15 students have taken advantage of the closet at each school over the years; however, both schools report having enough dresses on hand for that number to rise.
Smith says the HCHS closest also has accessories and masculine items to offer.
“Not only do we have dresses for our female students, we have jewelry and shoes to go with the gowns,” she said. “We also have some suits for our boys. The selection is not as large, but we do have some things.”
CHS also has some accessories. Broom said that in some cases, things fall together “perfectly.”
“We had a student a couple of years ago who found a dress that was absolutely perfect for her,” said Broom. “The dress fit her like a glove. There was no need for alterations, and the shoes fit perfectly. It was a Cinderella moment.”
Holmes County High School is additionally partnering with the cosmetology class at Florida Panhandle Technical College to provide hair and makeup services for students on the big day. Smith says the partnership is about making life a little easier for parents. “We know that prom is a big deal to our students,” said Smith. “… With that comes a large financial obligation. We want to help our students and their families have a stress-free experience that won’t break the bank. “
Broom stresses that the dresses are available to all students. “Everything we do at CHS is about our students,” she said. “It does not matter what their financial situation is. We want everyone to feel welcome to come try on dresses and hopefully find one they love. When these girls come in and try on dresses, I go into “mom mode.” I want them to feel beautiful and be excited for their big day. I get just as excited as they do and a little more emotional seeing how happy they are.”
While there are many dresses in stock at the CHS closest, Broom says there is still a need for larger sizes. “We have a lot of dresses,” said Broom. “Most of them, however, are in the smaller size range. We need to get some in the closet that are in the larger size range. Not every girl wears the same size, and our closet should represent that.”
Anyone interested in donating a dress or dresses contact Chipley High School or Holmes County High School for information. Students interested in browsing dresses may contact Kristi Broom at CHS or Sierra Smith or guidance at HCHS.