Wilkes students ‘slay’ to benefit high school prom attendees

On April 7, Wilkes students had the opportunity to walk the runway while helping members of the community.

“Slay Your Way to Prom,” which took place in the gymnasium at UCOMM at 6:30 p.m. on Friday, was organized in order to partner with Cinderella’s Closet to provide donated prom dresses to high school students who would not be able to afford them otherwise.

Cinderella’s Closet is an organization that provides used formal clothing to residents who do cannot afford to buy them new. They have a north east Pa. chapter, located in Scranton.

High school students who attended the event were able to bring one dress home for free as an “added perk” for attending, said Erica Acosta, associate director of diversity affairs. All of the dresses left over after the event, she said, would be donated to Cinderella’s Closet.

The event was originally spearheaded by Justin Davis of AmeriCorps PACC VISTA, but the buck was passed to Acosta due to unforeseen circumstances.

According to Acosta, he was very upset that he was unable to attend, and he did much of the legwork involved in the event.

Acosta added that the event received help from many other groups, including the Multicultural Student Coalition, Wilkes Civic engagement, the Hispanic Affair Advisory Council and Caring Communities, among others.

“It’s going to be going to a great organization to really help the community,” said Megan Boone Valkenburg, coordinator of student development. “(Prom is) one of these great, fun events that teens really like to go to, but they’re so super expensive.

“It puts at a disadvantage and it makes them feel not part of their school when they can’t afford to spend 3, 4, 5 thousand dollars on a dress… just for a few hours,” she said.

Acosta and Valkenburg agreed that they would be happy if even just one high school student walked away from the event with a dress.   

“The goal is, if we can even help one family member with a dress I’ll be happy. Hopefully with all the donations that we were able to collect we can impact other families in obtaining their dream dress,” Acosta said.

One seeker of that dream dress was Dori Lee, a junior at Coughlin High School.

“I’m having a hard time finding a good prom dress, so I came here,” Lee said. “It’s nice what they’re doing for the community because a lot of people here can’t afford (prom clothes) because they’re all being paid minimum wage.”

Lee was especially surprised by the selection of dresses available at the event.

“They look like dresses that would be at bridal stores… I went to other dress drives and they didn’t have anything in my size,” she said.

The students who participated in the event were, in no particular order, Maria Dima, Nilo Mominzada, Suzi Cook, Yahaira Colon, Ana Castillo, Danay Rosa, Ashley Rosa, Abie Pessima and Ymari Williams. The students were joined by Andrew Oddguns and Mitzi Fauntayne, mister and miss NEPA Pridefest 2016, respectively.

The master of ceremonies at the event was Junior Ka

la Walker, Multicultural student coalition secretary, who will be president of the club next year.