Brighton Central School District

BHS Students Say Yes to the Dress

The cost of attending junior prom or senior ball can add up quickly. There’s the dress or tuxedo, ticket to the event, hair and nail appointments, dinner and limousine. For high school girls, the dress can be the most expensive part. It’s easy to go over $100 and some dresses cost more than $500.

Brighton High School and Brighton Your Wardrobe teamed up to create BHS-Say Yes to the Dress, a two day event for students to get prom dresses, shoes and accessories for free. It was held Feb. 12 and 13 in the high school auditorium.

“You can be pretty thrifty about the hair and the nails, you can do that yourself,” BHS junior Mandy Smith said. “Dresses are one of those things where if you want a nice dress, you’re going to have to spend money on it. This was a good opportunity to get one of those aspects you can’t really skimp on.”

Brighton Your Wardrobe coordinator Julie Kashtan said a lot of people asked her when the organization would help kids who need prom dresses. She reached out to high school counselors and teamed up with Brighton High School counselor Courtney Stern, who formed a committee.

The committee featured school counselors Keri Neadom, Marcia O’Brien and Stern, Board of Education member Julene Gilbert, Kashtan and students Kaitlyn Thayer, Mandy Smith, T’Yanna Kendrick, Sarah Geller, Janie Kleinberg, Gretchen Brooker, Zoe Premyslovsky and Kate Costanza.

Originally, the plan was to make the event into a fashion show with student musical groups that would take place during the evening. However, organizers changed it to a simpler event during the school day so it could reach as many students as possible.

Brighton Your Wardrobe, a partnership of the Brighton Central School District and Jewish Family Service of Rochester, already had some dresses set aside. The high school then held a prom dress drive in December, so nearly 200 dresses in total were donated.

The event was a huge success, as 140 students found dresses and two found tuxedos. Many others came away with accessories.

Students also could enter a “Primp for Prom” contest sponsored by Summit Federal Credit Union. The winner was chosen based on an essay on why it’s important to spend, save and give back. The prize was a prom package valued at $300.

Not only did students find dresses for prom, ball and bar or bat mitzvahs, but it brought the Brighton community together.

“I witnessed people from different crowds and grades complimenting each other and telling each other how beautiful they looked,” Kendrick said.

Thayer’s favorite part came while working with a student who was a little self-conscious and hesitant to come out of the dressing room.

“She put on a dress and looked absolutely beautiful,” Thayer said. “It’s one of those moments where we know this is why we’re doing this. It was pretty special.”

While the event was aimed at getting dresses to those in need, it also was open to all students as an upcycling event. It helped students learn to think differently about how they spend their money and how it’s OK to wear a preowned dress.

Because the event was so successful, Brighton High School and Brighton Your Wardrobe are hoping it  was the first of many.

“A girl came up to me and said, ‘Oh my gosh, you guys need to do this every year. I got this beautiful dress and I probably wouldn’t have been able to afford a dress this nice,’” Smith said. “A couple other girls came to me talking about finances and how they probably wouldn’t have been able to afford a dress as nice or a dress in general if it wasn’t for this event.”


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