Project Prom

SUSD community bolsters students’ desire to go to prom with formal wear drive


As the school year nears its culmination, so comes the dawn of a generally much-anticipated time in high school students’ life: prom season.

Each year, high schools host a dance where students can don formal dress for a night of dancing and conviviality. Some see this night as a hallmark in a high school student’s tenure, which is why Scottsdale Unified School District Governing Board Vice President Patty Beckman wanted to make a difference.

Ms. Beckman, along with the Scottsdale Education Association and Scottsdale Parent Council, decided to conjure up Project Prom as a way to provide the opportunity for more students to attend prom within SUSD.

The cohort is collecting gently-used formal wear at each SUSD high school from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on both Saturday, Feb. 29 and Saturday, March 7. Those donations will then be available for any SUSD student with a valid ID from March 19-21 in the Saguaro High School parking lot.

Pickup times are slated for 5-7 p.m. on March 19-20 and 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. on March 21.

“Our hope is to provide every student in need with free formal wear and by doing so, remove the financial barriers that could potentially discourage them from attending prom and making the memories that are a integral part of the high school experience,” Ms. Beckman said via email.

A similar event in Paradise Valley Unified School District sparked Ms. Beckman to action about a year ago but SEA President Kris Ambri said it was too late to try for an event that year.
Still, the idea was in motion. Ms. Beckman rallied the SEA and SPC while Ms. Ambri got information from the Paradise Valley Education Association president.

“This is very important to me as I know that something like prom is so important to them; it is a huge life event that every single student should be able to participate in if they so choose,” Ms. Ambri said via email.

“Lack of funds hurts so many of our students in so many ways; this is one small thing that we can do for them. Side note; if it hadn’t been for my sister letting me wear an old bridesmaid dress of hers, I wouldn’t have been able to go to my own prom --- and I’m still married to the guy I went with.”

The event soon became a larger team effort as the Saguaro career and technical education students designed flyers and local Super Cuts offered to donate haircuts and up dos.

Emmie Cardella, treasurer of the Scottsdale Parent Council, said she’s enjoyed seeing how many people have jumped in to aid the project and the district’s students.

“Part of the mission of Scottsdale Parent Council is to connect the school communities within SUSD,” she said via email. “This is a wonderful opportunity for our students, teachers and parents across the district to come together.”

Many involved with this activity say they recognize helping students mean more than just academics. These organizers want to provide a well-rounded educational experience that includes arts, athletics, CTE and special events like prom, Ms. Beckman said.

The reality is, SEA Vice President Dave Hanlon says, not all students may have equal opportunities for events such as prom.

“Scottsdale is filled with a range of students, so we want to consider all students when planning events like a prom,” he said via email.

Ms. Beckman says that consideration is what led to the project.

“We are focusing on the many equity issues that exist in a district like Scottsdale, this will help,” she said.

“Every single student should have the opportunity to attend prom.”