All girls dream of going to the prom. They have fun finding the perfect dress with their friends, scoping out the best color-matched accessories and shoes to make the picture-perfect night meet all of their expectations. With the assistance of local teachers and educators, many of the girls who couldn’t afford the cost of a prom ticket and the daunting expense of the right outfit are now able to have their dream night come true.
Amanda Bostick, Student Support Specialist with Communities in Schools at Lexington Senior High School, has found a way to put the happiness back into prom for many local teens. Each year, Bostick and staff gather prom dresses and allow students who are unable to pay for a dress to peruse through gently worn dresses and find the perfect one for prom.
“In 2009, with help of Librarian Cheryl Chauncy, we pulled together a few used prom dresses and laid them in my office for the girls to see,” according to Bostick. “As the girls would filter through my office throughout the day, they would check out the dresses and find one that worked best for them. It sparked an idea and made us realize the true need for many of the teens at Lexington Senior High School. The following year we joined the event with Touching Davidson County with Love and offered a guest speaker to talk about young women’s empowerment and we had a good turnout.”
Every young lady dreams of going to the prom, but for these girls it’s just not an option because they can’t afford it. “The staff gets together to help them pay for their prom tickets and the whole purpose is to help these girls fit in. Prom is an excellent opportunity for young ladies to feel good about themselves and to dress up. Many of these kids don’t have clothes to wear to school each day, so they definitely couldn’t afford a prom dress,” added Bostick.
Year to year Bostick and staff will gather donated dresses to offer during the event. “We host the event in the library, offer refreshments, and allow the girls to look through the available dresses and try on until they find one they like.” Each year, according to Bostick, between 50 and 75 dresses are available. On average, 50 girls will participate in the event annually.
“We try and host the event during the week because transportation can be a huge issue for these teens and we want them to have the opportunity to participate if there is a need,” said Bostick. In partnership with Communities in Schools, alterations are paid for if adjustments are needed, and the dresses are free.
The biggest need is not only for dresses, but also for accessories. “We will get donated dresses, but where we are lacking is in accessories like necklaces, accent jewelry, and shoes. Girls today are dealing with body shaming, social media, and for most of these girls, extreme poverty at home on top of their day-to-day challenges,” added Bostick. “I believe that positive self-esteem can get you so far in life. Being a strong woman from the inside out and not worrying about what others think of you is part of my daily encouragement to over 100 students I case-manage at the high school.”
As an advocate for the students she supports, Bostick realizes the importance of someone in their life who encourages them that an education and positive self-worth are ways to get out of their impoverished situations. “Many of these kids are the only financial support for their entire families,” said Bostick. “Trying to be more understanding of their situations is important, but so is instilling the importance of graduation and how it leads to success in life.”
Many of the students that Bostick works with are working really hard to succeed, but deal with the language barriers of their parents, lack of proper food, or even lack of power or water at home. “I always encourage them that their education is a way out of these situations,” said Bostick.
A program that is also available to qualified students is an after school program called Life Instructions for Teens or L.I.F.T. This program is offered through a grant from the North Carolina Juvenile Crime Prevention Councils and allows kids actually to get paid for attending the program on Mondays and Wednesdays.
“This program offers life skills like resume building and speaking in public,” said Bostick. “There are approximately 25-35 students in the program and the great upside to the program is that once it’s completed, the staff works with the students to get them paid jobs during the summer months. I tell students every day, no matter what their situation is, no matter how defeated they feel, always walk with your head up. I tell them to thank God every day that they got up that morning and be proud of yourself and who you are,” said Bostick.
Suffering from her own childhood issues, Bostick makes it a point to make sure that everyone feels wanted and no one feels they are forgotten about. The prom dress donation opportunity is just another example of how Bostick and the staff at Lexington Senior High are able to keep these children on the path for success and to help them know someone is caring for them. According to Bostick, “We are an amazing school where we all want to help each other out and give these teens the best opportunities to succeed. In my mind, no one is ever to feel left out!” she emphasized.
To make a donation or for additional information call Amanda Bostick 336-242-1574