EAST MACHIAS, Maine — The hall outside Mathy Terrill’s classroom at Washington Academy was aglitter with color Thursday.
Two racks, made by the school’s shop classes, were filled with colorful prom dresses. A third rack was tucked away inside another classroom. The dresses will be given away to any student from the area at an event 1-4 p.m. April 11 in the cafeteria of the school.
Teacher Terrill came up with the idea while returning from volunteering with National Honor Society students at the Whiting Food Pantry.
“Driving the bus home one day … I was like, we should do something or collect something,” said Terrill.
Then she thought about prom.
“Prom is a big deal for some kids. I’d hate to see a girl not go to prom because she can’t afford a dress,” she said.
Some girls may be able to afford a prom dress but not want to spend the money required to buy one, said senior Madeleine Seeley, who is president of the National Honor Society.
With the blessing of the students, Terrill made a flyer and began spreading the word on Facebook.
“The dresses started rolling in,” she said.
As of March 19, they had 81 dresses with more to come.
“I have three or four in my closet I’m never going to wear again,” said Seeley, who plans to donate two prom dresses and two formal dresses worn while she was on a cruise.
Senior Wren Wakeman brought in one from her eighth-grade graduation and some formal dresses that are now too small for her.
Some of the dresses could be used for other occasions as well as prom, Wakeman said.
The group wants to collect at least 100 dresses, Terrill said.
“My biggest fear is 200 people will show up, and I’ll only have 100 dresses,” said Terrill.
The group plans to continue collecting dresses up until the day of the giveaway. The prom will be held about a month later on May 16.
The dresses are organized on the three racks by size, which range from 0 up to 24.
At first, the group used Terrill’s classroom for storage.
“It was full of all these dresses on the wall,” said Wakeman.
Terrill said it felt like she could drown in dresses.
Colors run the gamut from blood red to navy blue to pink to silver. Some are short, some are long and some are in between. One even has a train, and the bodice is covered in jewels.
A number of the dresses still have their original price tags, showing they were never worn. Others were, no doubt, worn only once.
“Some of these girls bought these dresses for over $300, and they’re donating them for free,” said Seeley. “I keep looking at them. I just can’t stop looking at the dresses.”
“There certainly is a variety,” said Terrill.
When the event takes place, the group plans to have people modeling dresses and to have someone there to consult on hair and makeup.
“I think it’s just going to be a blast, and we’re going to have so much fun,” said Wakeman.
For more information on donating a dress, email Terrill at firstname.lastname@example.org or call the school at 255-8301.