Assignment: Education-Project Prom

Reported by Lisa Klein | bio | email | twitter

These are the finishing touches before one of the biggest nights of the year for most high school students.

"I know how big of a deal prom is to students," said Clare Platt, Project Prom organizer and Onalaska High School junior.

That's because Clare is an Onalaska High School Junior going to her own prom.


"A lot is involved in prom, because it is such a big deal to people," said Platt. "And I think the nails, the hair appointments, the shoes, the jewelry, the dress and the fitting. So, there's a lot. And a lot of people will do the photography, professional photos... it's a lot that goes into prom."

And for some students the cost of those details can be too much.

"It was going to be really upsetting if I couldn't go," said Briana Gardener, Onalaska High School senior. "Obviously, I wanted to go and spend time with my friends and have a good time. But my family comes first. And there was no way I was going to force them to pay for me when we didn't have that money... when we needed to pay bills and buy food and all that stuff."

Briana's story isn't all that uncommon. And when Clare started hearing her peers talk about the expense of prom she decided to take action.

"If we can alleviate some of that pressure that's put on families because of the financial aspect of prom and how much money it does cost, then I think that's important," said Platt.

So, Clare launched Project Prom about four weeks ago. She hung posters and pamphlets around school and had the office make morning announcements about her plan to help out her fellow peers.

"I heard it on the announcements and I just thought, I'm really close with my guidance counselor and so I was like, 'I have a question. What's this whole project prom thing,'" said Gardener.

"Project Prom is a financial assistance program that's available for students at Onalaska High School who can't pay for prom or need help paying for any part of the prom experience," said Platt."

"They contacted me and were like what do you need help on," said Gardener. "I said dress and hair and make-up and stuff like that. I put my brother's name down too because he needed a tux and flowers."

So, to meet these requests Clare went to work contacting area business owners, like Sue Kolve Feehan owner of the Salon Professional Academy in Onalaska, to make prom possible for Briana and others like her.

"As soon as I heard the mission and her cause, immediately it struck a cord for me," said Kolve Feehan.

"We got some monetary donations from a couple of businesses and we also got in-kind donations in the form of gift cards, hair and nails and dinners," said Platt.

"It's just a great win, win, win," said Kolve Feehan. "Our students here really love to work with the up dos and all of the special occasion stuff. They love to show their work. And to be able to do that and to help these students out I think is amazing. It's a great partnership."

Clare was able to send Briana to prom in style with a visit to a salon and a new dress. This Onalaska High School junior proved that when you recognize a need it's important not to dance around the issue.

"I think this program is important because it's students coming together to help our fellow peers," said Platt. "And I think that when we recognize a problem or we recognize something that we can see needs someone to help and know that we can do something about it. It think it's important that we act on it."

"I'm really thankful that we have sponsors and businesses in this community that are willing to give money, because I think once they see this interview and hear what the kids have to say that they will see that they actually have made a huge difference," said Gardener.

On one of the biggest nights of the year.�@




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