Grad Dresses on display at Wesmor Walks the Walk

Jason Kerr
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Students and teachers at Wesmor Community Public High School took a break from classes on Wednesday for the Wesmor Walks the Walk Fashion Show.

A total of eight students, six female and two male, took the stage to show off a collection of grad dresses and suits donated by members of the community.  While most grad dresses cost hundreds of dollars, these dresses are being sold for $25 each.

“Grad dresses are so expensive,” Wesmor Grade 12 student and Walk the Walk model Amelia Everett says.  “I went looking at grad dresses and they’re over $400.  Having this for $25 is perfect.”

The fashion show was started five years ago by Kathy Nagy, after she saw the high cost of grad dresses and heard that some Wesmor students weren’t going to their graduation night because they couldn’t afford one.  Nagy says there was something wrong with that.

“These kids worked hard to get to the point of graduation and they deserve to feel special.”

What followed was an intense search for donors and sponsors that blossomed into Wesmor Walks the Walk, and the students couldn’t be happier.

“It’s a big deal,” Everett says with a large grin.  “Getting a dress that looks practically brand new, it’s awesome.”

Fellow model and Wesmor student Lois McKenzie agrees.

“Grad is everything to a girl...  You need the perfect dress.”

McKenzie is in a particularly tough situation because she’s a single mother.  Providing for her daughter is hard enough without spending money on luxuries like a grad dress.

“(Dresses) are like $600 or $700, even more,” she says.  “I can’t afford that kind of stuff.  I have my own daughter to look after.”

The effect of the show was not lost on Wesmor teachers either.  They say they’re proud to see the community rally together year after year to support the program.

“It just shows what can be done when one person sees that there’s a need out there, and when the community pulls together great things can happen,” teacher Tricia Lucyshyn says.

Around 60 dresses were donated to Wesmor this year, along with around 10 to 15 suits.  Local community businesses also chipped in providing items such as shoes and services like dry cleaning.  SIAST Hair Salon even sent a group down to provide free hair styling.

Show organizers say it’s important to celebrate graduation because it sends a message about how valuable education is.  They say these dresses and suits aren’t just about looking good, they’re about celebrating an important achievement.

“It shows the other students that anything in possible,” Lucyshyn says.  “Your dreams can come true if you’re willing to work hard for them.”

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