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

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

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

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

Keller teaches Spanish at the high school, but has spentmuch of her time outside the classroom expanding the Glass Slipper Project. Shecreated it last year, outfitting more than 60 boys and girls for prom at nocost to them.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The school will hosta benefit fashion show this Saturday at 2 p.m. to mark the grand opening of theboutique.

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

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

For more information on the Glass Slipper Project, contactKeller at leigh.keller@batesvilleschools.org or call Batesville High School at870-793-6846.

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