March 19, 2012
(Columbia, MD) – Spring has sprung and prom prices have popped; Visa, Inc.’s Prom Spending Survey shows that the average prom experience costs a whopping $800. Surprisingly, 2,475 high school students in Howard County live near or below the poverty level. Thanks to a Howard Community College class project, called “The Perfect Prom Project,” more than 40 local high school girls will not have to forfeit the once-in-a-lifetime experience due to lack of finances. As part of a class assignment, the students in Hospitality Management 164 have created, designed and planned a shopping extravaganza, so area high school girls can “shop” at no cost for nearly-new prom dresses at a student-designed “boutique” located on the college’s campus on Tuesday, March 20, 6:30 – 8:30 p.m. (Rouse Company Student Services Hall, 4th Floor). The high school girls, who will have their own personal student-stylists, will try on a variety of nearly-new dresses, accessories and shoes in a student-created setting that has been designed to pamper first and foremost.
The highly unusual class project is designed to teach the 17 Howard Community College students, who range in age from 18 - 64 and are pursuing careers in hospitality management, how to apply event-coordinating skills in the workforce, while reinforcing their social responsibility to give back to their community. The class is a hybrid course where half of the class has been offered online and the other half has been offered on campus on select evenings. Mimicking the work world, each hospitality management student had to apply for a job that will be carried out during the event (i.e. shopping coordinator, footwear stylist, activity coordinator, etc.).
What about the dresses? Recently, the college’s Center for Service Learning completed a full-scale Prom Dress Donation Drive on campus, which was designed to yield a selection of beautiful dresses and accessories. Donated were over 100 prom dresses, 50 accessory items and 35 pairs of shoes. A swell of support for this arm of the project was received from Howard Community College faculty, staff and students who made the prom dress donations at five designated “prom drop-offs:” the Center for Service Learning, Continuing Education Office, Development Office, the Office of Student Life; and the Security Office. In addition to the college’s Center for Service Learning, the Prom Dress Donation Drive was sponsored by the college’s Professional/Technical Constituency Group (comprised of staff members ranging from higher-level administrative support positions to assistant directors) and supported by the Student Program Board.