Batesville H.S. opens prom dress boutique for low-income student - KAIT-Jonesboro, AR-News, weather, sports

Batesville H.S. opens prom dress boutique for low-income students

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BATESVILLE, AR (KAIT) – Students all strive to look like stars at their high school prom, but making the best dressed list can be anything but cheap.

The Batesville High School has even noticed some of its students skipping prom because of the overwhelming cost, so a teacher decided to start a local Glass Slipper Project.

"The Glass Slipper Project is a project that's geared toward matching girls that live in poverty with free, donated prom dresses and accessories," Leigh Keller said. "Poverty should not limit you from attending your high school prom and so we want to be able to provide prom for everyone."

Keller teaches Spanish at the high school, but has spent much of her time outside the classroom expanding the Glass Slipper Project. She created it last year, outfitting more than 60 boys and girls for prom at no cost to them.  

"It is my desire that no child ever comes in and says I didn't go to prom because I didn't have a dress," Keller said.

All the donations last year were kept in a closet in one of her fellow teacher's classrooms. Keller, however, now has much more space to house and display everything from dresses to shoes to jewelry.

Keller and a team of volunteers converted a vacant science lab in the old Batesville Middle School building into what now looks like a high-end dress shop, complete with bright pink walls and white display cases.

"I wanted it to end up looking like a boutique," Keller said. "I don't want girls to feel like I'm going into an old classroom to get a prom dress. I want them to feel like they're coming into an actual dress boutique."

Keller designed the room to look this way for a reason.

"I know that there's such a stigma of thinking like oh my gosh, I know I'm getting something for free and someone else is paying for this brand new dress and so part of the boutique is to remove that stigma," she said. "I want [the girls] to feel very special and beautiful and important."

The boutique will open every Saturday until the Batesville High School prom on April 27 so that the girls have enough time to pick out what they will wear.

"We also do their hair and makeup on the day of prom as well if they need that help," Keller said, "because that's another $30 that most of them don't have."

Volunteers reconfigured the old lab tables to serve as ‘glitter stations' or prep areas for the girls gussying up on prom day.

The girls, however, don't get to have all the fun. Their dates, too, can get some help to look dapper.

"We also do some tuxedo sponsorships as well so that the boys don't get too left out," Keller said. "Obviously, they don't want to come to our very pink room."

 The school will host a benefit fashion show this Saturday at 2 p.m. to mark the grand opening of the boutique.

People can stop by the old Batesville Middle School on Water Street to help support the cause.

Admission is either $5 or a package of diapers, which will be donated to the district's diaper closet.

For more information on the Glass Slipper Project, contact Keller at leigh.keller@batesvilleschools.org or call Batesville High School at 870-793-6846.

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