South Brunswick High offers free prom dresses

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BOILING SPRING LAKES, NC (WWAY) — Prom season is right around the corner for high school students across the country. As they prepare for the big night, students and their families are also planning for the price tag that comes along with the evening.

A study by VISA shows the average family spent nearly $1,000 on prom last year. According to that same study, that number is down from 2013.

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To cut costs for students, a South Brunswick math teacher has revived the school’s Prom Closet.

For girls, attending a prom or a military ball is especially expensive. Between the dress, the shoes, jewelry, and cosmetics, it all adds up.

“I felt like choosing this experience and the memory of prom, I would have to choose that over something else I could have done with the money,” said Jennifer Ramos, a junior at South Brunswick High.

Ramos, a member of the ROTC program was worried about finding a dress for the Military Ball. Last school year, when it came time for it, the thought of paying for a dress was daunting to her.

“I felt like I was bothering my mom to some extent,” said Ramos.

Not wanting to put that financial burden on her mother, Ramos figured she would wear her uniform.

“It would still get me that memory but it wouldn’t be the same,” she said.

Backtracking to a couple years before this, Cathy Johnson, a teacher at South Brunswick, bought her daughter her first prom dress.

“I didn’t realize how much dresses cost,” said Johnson, who now coordinates the Prom Closet.

Amazed by just that expense, Johnson decided to start the school’s prom closet back up.

“When I bought her the dress I said ‘We had to find those dresses,'” said Johnson.

The closet had been open for several years prior, but after the previous coordinator stepped down, no one did anything with the dresses for two years.

Last year Johnson hung the dresses back up on the racks, and opened the closet to students again.

“I feel like I am providing such a wonderful thing to the girls,” she said.

The Prom Closet is a collection of dresses donated by women around the community. Dresses they either outgrew, or did not need anymore.

“Why keep it in my closet when I can just bring it here?” said Taylor Scott.

Johnson said because of the community’s kindness, 75 have been added to the racks this year. But the collection is much larger than that. Any dress that was left from previous years is also up for grabs.

These dresses come at no cost to the girls and are theirs to keep.

“It was really nice to know a weight could be taken off,” said Ramos, who wore one of those dress at the Military Ball.

These dresses are far more than just fabric though. They give each student a chance to be the belle of the ball, and memories they might have not had otherwise made.

“One of my friends came up to me and said I look like the prettiest out of everyone,” said Ramos as she reflected on her experience. “It just made me feel so happy and overwhelmed.”

The Prom Closet will be open to anyone in need of a dress Friday at 8 a.m. until 2 p.m. It is a one day event but Johnson said she will keep the dresses out for a couple more weeks just in case someone misses out on Friday.

Not to forget about the accessories, there are shoes and purses to choose from too. A Brunswick County senior center also made 100 pieces of jewelry for the girls as well, and Mary Kay donated makeup to the cause.

If you have anything you would like to add the closet, you can contact Cathy Johnson at South Brunswick High School.