Alliance High School said yes to the dresses for Project Prom

Posted on March 27, 2023

In partnership with The Repository, every Monday, Stark Community Foundation highlights positive happenings in our community. Here’s to Good News Mondays! 

The job training coordination (JTC) class at Alliance High School recently hosted its fourth successful Project Prom event, where a record-breaking number of students were matched with their perfect prom dress, suit, shoes, jewelry and accessories — all for free.

For many, the fancy attire, special venue and fun time dancing at prom is often a fond high school memory to reflect on. However, the cost of a dress or suit can deter students from participating in the dance with their peers.

This year, Project Prom has already provided more than 40 students the opportunity to receive a dress or suit, shoes and accessories at no cost. The dresses and other formal attire pieces are available for any AHS student, and students do not have to prove a financial need to utilize the service.

The event began in 2020 when teacher Andrea Ciavarelli collaborated with Alliance High family support specialists to get dresses in the hands of students who needed them. 

“When the student finds the dress, their face lights up and you can see how happy they are and how good they feel in that moment,” said Ciavarelli. “Every student deserves to look and feel their best on prom night, and they shouldn’t have to stress over not being able to afford a fancy dress or outfit.”

All items are generously donated by staff, graduates and community members who decide to give their items a second life. Each dress is altered to fit the new owner by community members Gloria Kovacik and Marikay Kuntzman. The dress fittings happen during the Project Prom event, and the custom-fit dresses are distributed before prom night.

When Project Prom first started, there were 100 dresses available for students to pick from and 30 students served. Due to generous donations from the community, there are now over 300 dresses to choose from, along with dress pants, shirts, ties and suit jackets.

Project Prom would not be possible without the hard work of the juniors and seniors in the JTC class. 

“JTC does all of the behind the scenes work. We get out all of the racks and shelving, unpack all of the dresses and sort and label them with sizes,” Ciavarelli said. “They also help us determine whether dresses are in style or not.”

The JTC class provides technical, on-the-job training to AHS students who require individualized support to transition to competitive employment upon graduation.

The class is accepting donations of dresses, men’s dress clothes, dress shoes, jewelry and accessories along with donations of thread and sewing supplies to be used by the volunteer seamstresses. Donations can be dropped off through April 3 in the Alliance High security office, located at Door #1, Monday through Friday from 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. 

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