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Local high-school students initiate low-cost prom

Clothing donations being accepted so students can spend money elsewhere

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Some Whistler high-school students have organized a recycling program for prom clothes with the thought that young grads might not want to spend hundreds or thousands of dollars on one night.

Students are collecting used dressy clothing for graduating students to wear this year. Typically, the dress, the shoes, the bag, the hair, the makeup and the manicure can add up to the equivalent of university tuition for one semester for females. For males, it can be just as much depending on the suit, shoes, and related costs.

"We plan to pass this down as a legacy," said Stephane Barnett, a Grade 12 student who embraces the frugal concept for graduation and the possibility that it can be embraced elsewhere. "The more we spread the word, the better. Not just at this tiny school."

The Whistler Secondary School students have already collected numerous gowns, jewelry, shoes, shirts, ties and sports jackets that others can wear for the big event rather than spending money unnecessarily.

Stefanie Tomcheck, a Grade 11 student, is also helping collect items, and said they want to spread the word so more people will donate clothing and items. Both Barnett and Tomcheck have no doubt the donations will flow in.

"We have an influence and Whistler is such a tightly knit community — there's so much support wherever you go," said Barnett.

"I think we're trying to emphasize that it's not for people who can't afford it, it's more for people who would take that money and instead spend it elsewhere — such as housing, paying bills," said Tomcheck.

"We're not just taking donations for clothes but taking them from people volunteering for makeup, hair, taxi fare, photographers — everything," Barnett said.

There can be huge pressures on students for the pomp of prom.

"It depends on how all-out someone wants to go. A lot of girls think of it as something really big — they spend a lot of money. It's like their day to be a princess," said Tomcheck.

But the easy vibe of Whistler tones that down, said Barnett.

"Everyone's pretty accepting. That's the nature of having a tourist town. Everyone knows each other — it's Whistler. It's not about ego, your position in life. We're just trying to have fun. That's it. And have a safe night. That's all people should really care about."

Posters with information about the program soon will be available. Donations can be made at the Whistler Women's Centre from May 10 to 26 from noon to 5 p.m. Further information is available by contacting helene.whistler@gmail.com.

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