Viking prom closet blesses senior through community support

Callie Bollinger

When the district announced that prom would take place this year for seniors, many were concerned about the expenses of the event given the financial crisis caused by COVID-19. Senior English teacher Stephanie Manry immediately wanted to help and put feelers out to her Facebook friends about donations for prom. Once donations started coming in, the prom closet was set up and students were able to shop for their perfect outfits. 

“The most difficult part was arranging picking up the donations and making the closet an inviting place for girls to come shop,” Manry said. “In one week we had over 250 dresses and 50 pairs of shoes donated. It was much more than I expected would happen.”

The support for the prom closet has amazed everyone involved and makes them feel good about the community they live in. 

“I was totally shocked by the amount of donations,” freshman English teacher Cynthia Dominguez said. “The community has been donating and it is amazing how this community has reached out despite all the hardships everyone has been through.”

Other English teachers like Melanie Lasater were excited to be able to offer something meaningful to the seniors.

“It has been wonderful seeing the girls shop and come in and pick whatever they want, dress, shoes, everything and it’s free,” Lasater said. “No charge, no strings attached, just a blessing to them.”

Students are appreciative of the contributions and effort made by everyone involved.

“The prom closet helps us save money,” senior Nataly Ramos said. “I think it was a really good idea and it was so nice. I found a great dress that I love and I just want to thank all the people for donating. I want to give my dress back so someone else can use it.”

With some teacher’s experiencing events like the prom closet at others schools, they found it nice to be involved in it again.

“I wanted to help with the prom closet because I wanted to help Mrs. Manry,” Dominguez said. “At my old school in Amarillo they had a prom closet and I saw a lot of girls’ dreams come true by going to prom even though they couldn’t afford it they got beautiful dresses donated that they could wear.”

Students feel the prom closet took away much of the stress related to the event.

“I thought the prom closet was an excellent idea,” senior Nariah Gibbs said. “It means a lot to me because I want so much done and it means one thing off my list that I don’t have to deal with.”

Donations have come in from as far away as Houston, but there have been many alumni who have found a way to give back to the school as well.

“I wanted to donate to the prom closet because the dresses I had have been sitting in my closet for years not being used,” 2013 graduate Allie Prejean said. “Plus, I love the idea of these girls being able to shop from a personalized dress closet.”

Knowing that they were able to contribute to a life-long memory has been the best reward for many of the people who donated.

“It feels so special to me that someone chose my dress,” Prejean said. “When I donated my dresses, I was not sure that the style of dress I chose back in 2012-2013 would still be in style, but they were. I hope that whoever wore my dress was able to feel as confident as I was when I wore it.”

The excitement of finding a dress has been experienced over and over again as more students shop after school for the perfect outfit for prom.

“The prom closet was a good thing because sometimes people don’t have money to buy things and get nice dresses,” senior Marcela Torres said. “I found a nice black dress and some earrings that I love.”

Though the dresses, shoes, and accessories are provided free of charge, organizers feel that they are paid in something even better – smiles.

“The most rewarding part is seeing the smiles on the girls,” Manry said. “Hearing them say that they feel beautiful or that they feel like a princess has been so touching.”

“We hope to keep the closet an on-going thing at BHS,” Manry said. “We have many shirts and ties for the men for graduation and already have homecoming dresses for next year.”

With everything that has happened this year, organizers hope that their efforts will provide a glimmer of hope and help create lasting good memories.

“I always love helping students,” Lasater said, “that’s my heart – to give back. Prom is at the forefront of all of my students’ minds especially with all the struggles they have faced this year. There was a high need in this aspect and just to allow these senior girls to celebrate that moment and make it special.”