Wheeler Prom Dress Drive

Posters for the Prom Dress Drive

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Posters for the Prom Dress Drive

Laurel Cowgill, Staff Writer

Imagine anticipating an evening out dancing, being with friends, with your significant other, making memories, and smiling so brightly the cameras cannot outshine you. But when you go to buy an outfit for it, your smile drops, and you are not animated anymore. So, Wheeler hosted a Prom Dress Drive March 28th-30th to provide female students with more cost-effective access to prom outfits. They asked the community to donate gently used prom dresses, plastic garment bags, garment racks, jewelry, and gift cards for shoes, jewelry, hair, and nail salons by March 25th. Signs were also posted around the school advertising the drive and inviting any junior or senior to participate.
Hannah Jones, the social worker for Wheeler, organized the collection drive for the event. Students were happy to hear that they would not have to spend a considerable amount of money on dresses and accessories. Lily Baghramian, a senior at Wheeler, felt the drive was very generous and that “it isn’t fair if their economic status holds them back” from attending this “coming-of-age celebration”. Teachers at Wheeler also had their opinions on the drive. Dr. Deason said the campaign was significant because “I know prom dresses are not cheap, and I also know that prom dresses are something you wear once. It’s a great way not only to help the students out but also environmentally friendly”. So instead, girls had the opportunity to shop for a free dress and still enjoy their night out. For many students, prom is an excuse to get dressed up and have a fun evening with friends, but for other students, it means more. Maria De Souza, a junior at Wheeler High, described it as “the ending of something good, but the start of something great”.

Girls posing for pre-prom photos (From The Sumter Item)

The theme this year was Night at the Gala. Prom tickets went on sale in March and were at an advantageous price of $60 for seniors, $80 for juniors, and $100 for guests. Usually, prom tickets range from anywhere between $20-$250 per person. While this may seem expensive, the venue and the food being served impact ticket prices. In April, a hotel called 12 Midtown hosted the prom, so the ticket prices were plausible. However, dresses are more expensive and often worn once for the event. The cost for one can be $100-$400. Additional money might also be spent on hair and makeup, nails, renting a limousine, and shoes. Some juniors, like Keomi Downs, “don’t want to spend a lot of money on this prom… maybe more for senior prom” because senior prom is higher regarded. With all that goes into preparing for this night, the amount of money used begins to add up.
The median yearly household income for families in Cobb County is $79, 601 according to the 2019 census. However, this can differ based on factors such as race, ethnicity, gender, the social class the providers were born into, and the number of providers in the household. Monthly costs include groceries, electric and natural gas bills, mortgage/rent, insurance, etc. Taking an expensive outfit for prom into consideration is an extra stressor families do not need.
Reaching the age when they can spend a memorable and exciting night out with friends is greatly anticipated by girls throughout high school. Although, prom was not always such a huge deal. Initially, it was a mere banquet that American universities organized for those graduating that year. It has now diversified a good deal and has addressed topics like racial segregation, LGBTQ rights, and more. Being given a chance to dress up and attend without blowing the bank is essential inclusivity for female students at Wheeler. Prom is “a night to commemorate how far you’ve come” and celebrate what happens next in your journey through life. A person’s financial level should not restrict an event such as this.