Prom Closet remains closed, hopes to appear next year


Photo Illustration by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

Brittany Cornelison

Photo Illustration by Maria Kalaitzandonakes
Photo Illustration by Maria Kalaitzandonakes

For most high schoolers, prom only comes around once, making the pursuit of a perfect evening one that must be carefully planned. However, for the ladies in particular, finding an elegant dress for the memorable night is a feat that can take months. On top of the fitting, dresses are oftentimes expensive, making it hard to find the “perfect” dress on a budget.

For the past couple of years, RBHS and HHS students teamed up to eliminate some of the stress. An event labeled, “Prom Closet,” came into existence when the two major high schools came together to find a way to help girls without a lot of financial resources be able to attend prom.

2012 RBHS alumnus Sami Kanago organized this event last year, helping to give out more than 50 party dresses to students who otherwise wouldn’t have been able to afford them.

“The dresses have been donated by people who have previously used them. It is a great way to recycle a dress that’s hardly been worn,” Kanago said. “The dresses have no set price and any donation is given to the Rainbow House here in Columbia. … Prom Closet has been very fortunate to contribute to such a wonderful cause for the past few years.”
Local businesses, dress shops and individuals donate the dresses and shoes that are on display for the girls who attend. The event raised more than $150 in donations alone last year when it was hosted in RBHS’ commons. Despite previous success, the event wasn’t held this year. Assistant Principal David Bones said this may be a result of the amount of responsibility running an event of this size requires.
“My understanding is that no one really stepped up to take on the project … it had grown so huge that the girls who had been doing this had grown to where they had 200 gowns … that were being stored in someone’s basement,” Bones said. “I think partly it was just logistically they couldn’t find anyone who could take it on.”
Kanago agrees with Bones; the event required quite a bit of time and energy on her part in order to make it worthwhile. However, the RBHS graduate said she doesn’t regret taking part in the event.
“The event itself actually takes a ton of organization. You have to find a place to host it, advertise, find a place to store the dresses, get people to donate to the cause and send all of the collected money into the Rainbow House,” Kanago said. “It takes quite a bit of responsibility. But it was definitely worth it. To see some of the girls find a dress that they liked and wanted to wear to prom was very rewarding. It made me feel like our event really changed some people’s lives.”
For Kanago, the joy she received from helping the girls find their dresses outweighed the amount of work she had to put into it. For this reason, Bones hopes the event will be pursued more fervently next prom season.
“It’s work, but a minimal cost. I would hope it continues because it’s a really, really cool thing,” Bones said. “You’re helping people that otherwise may not be able to attend prom, and you’re also making use of stuff that otherwise get used which is cool.”
The memory of this organization hasn’t gone away; Bones said he has received many questions this year about whether or not the event is going to be held. Junior Kristen Buster said she likes the idea behind Prom Closet and feels like this would help girls feel more accepted when going to such a renowned school function.
“[Prom Closet] … is so inclusive to girls who may otherwise feel excluded,” Buster said. “It says that at [RBHS] prom it’s not about the money spent, it’s about having a good time with friends and being able to enjoy the evening instead of feeling unable to participate because of cost.”
Though the Prom Closet won’t be open this year, juniors have the chance to bring it back if they so choose. Though success won’t be immediate, hosting an event like this is very rewarding, Kanago said.
“I think it is a wonderful event. It isn’t going to happen easily for quite a few years. It will take some hard, patient workers that will be willing to promote it for a few years until it does become a big, well known event that gets donated to regularly,” Kanago said. “But if the workers are willing and motivated, it would continue to be an outrageously awesome cause, for hopefully many more girls.”
By Brittany Cornelison