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Teens begin prom-dress search at fashion events

| Sunday, Feb. 9, 2014, 5:42 p.m.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Springdale High School junior class vice president Shaley Schreckengost tries on a gown at Babe's Broadway Bridal in New Kensington.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Springdale High School junior class president Erin Sikora browses through gowns at Babe's Broadway Bridal in New Kensington.
Erica Dietz | Valley News Dispatch
Springdale High School junior class vice president Shaley Schreckengost tries on a gown at Babe's Broadway Bridal in New Kensington.
Valley News Dispatch
Dozens of girls start off the day by searching through some of the hundreds of dresses available at Cinderella's Closet at the North Apollo Church of God at a previous event.
Cascading curls and a twisted bang is expected to be a popular prom style in 2014.
The braided updo is expected to be a popular look for prom 2014.

Spring can't get here soon enough, especially for high-school students anticipating that annual rite of passage: prom season.

To motivate students to start their prom-shopping experience, several high schools are dressing up and hitting the runway to show off the latest in spring formals.

Springdale High School will host an “Under The Sea” theme prom fashion show Feb. 16.

“We have planned this for months, our junior class prom committee,” Erin Sikora, junior class president, says.

“Our event is a traditional fashion show with couples showcasing trending dresses of the season.”

Proceeds from an auction, bake sale and raffle will benefit the Springdale Prom Committee. “The money earned will go towards our “Masquerade”-theme prom held May 16 at Edgewood Country Club.”

“I'm a little nervous, but I know our class can pull this off,” Sikora says. “We have been working so hard, months, on this event, and I can't wait to see my classmates dressed up and ready for the prom.”

Sikora recently visited Babe's Broadway Bridal in New Kensington with Springdale junior-class vice-president Shaley Schreckengost. Together, they tried on different dress styles in anticipation of walking the prom catwalk.

“I will be modeling two different dresses, some couples will go twice and model more than one style,” explains Schreckengost,”I will wear a coral dress and the other is green and both have sparkling details.”

“We love loaning the dresses to the girls; this is our eighth year helping them,” says Kimberly Mentecki, manager, along with her mother, Karen Gretz, the owner. They are the exclusive provider of gowns for Springdale. Top Hat Formals in Pittsburgh Mills, Frazer, will provide the tuxedos.

“There are many hot styles and trends this season,” Mentecki says. “Corset-back laced dresses, ruffles with high-low cuts, bright colors such as lime green and hot orange, cap sleeves, and an overall more-sophisticated look is on tap for spring. The boys are sporting vests, traditional Windsor ties, and, if you want to look like James Bond, there are bow ties.”

“The girls will do their own makeup,” says Sikora, “but the hair will be styled by local hair professionals Laurie Molnar, Christina Jackson, Brenda Mator, Studio 657, Galleria Salon, Philip Pelusi, and Chrissy's Cut Color and Curls.”

“Braids and twisting the hair is big this year,” Liz Clark, Philip Pelusi operations coordinator, says. “Loose waves with the hair down with one side and slightly pulled back are trending for this year's prom season, too. The messy up-do with soft curls and braids pinned loosely around will also be popular.”

Seth Pahlman, a junior at Springdale, will make his inaugural walk down the runway. “I am the first to walk out, I'm looking forward to that,” Pahlman says. “I picked out my tux at Top Hat Formals, and it is a black traditional tux. I still need to coordinate my shirt with her (Sikora's) lilac dress.”

Mentecki encourages girls to “shop early, get a head start, keep an open mind, and try on a variety of styles.

The price tag on gowns?

“They can range from $199 to $599,” Mentecki says, adding, “We do have layaway.”

Susan Baculik, sales associate for Top Hat Formals, says they are loaning out “42 gowns or tuxedos.”

Back on the runway

After a few years hiatus, Burrell High School will host a prom fashion show Feb. 20 with 12 couples modeling spring formal looks for 2014.

“Our committee voted on it. We wanted to bring it back, and last year, we didn't have gowns on time and we had scheduling issues with playoff season,” junior Mary Jo Palko, prom committee president, says.

“Our prom will have a Paris theme of some sort this year, but we are still working on that.”

Marla Anthony has been a prom sponsor at Burrell since 2006. “I love working with the kids in a different creative area, other than the classroom. It's fun for the kids, and they get all dressed up, and each year, it's a different group of juniors.” Anthony teaches social studies with an emphasis on American history.

Top Hat Formals will provide gowns and tuxedos for this event. “The kids were fitted and are waiting to get their dresses,” Anthony says.

The event will feature a Chinese auction, bake sale and senior-boy ice-cream social auction. “We have about 10 senior boys who will have ice cream with the highest bidders after the show at the high school,” Palko says.

“We also will offer a raffle with the winning ticket receiving a new prom dress from Formal Reflections in South Buffalo.”

Kiski sparkled

Kiski Area High School had its prom fashion show Feb. 8.

“This was our 8th annual show,” teacher Jenn McAfee, prom show coordinator. says. “All of our models were seniors and are members of SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions), and proceeds benefit our club and will go towards financing our annual mock crash event held in May. We raised about $200.” McAfee also is the SADD sponsor.

Hairstyles were provided by Fashions-A-Head Salon and Day Spa and Family Styles.

Fairy godmothers

For young ladies on a more-restricted budget, or no budget, two area churches have a solution.

“Cinderella's Closet,” a ministry of The North Apollo Church of God, provides free prom dresses and accessories to girls attending local proms.

“So many girls buy expensive dresses, wear them once, and they hang in a closet never to be worn again,” Kristie Zimmerman, coordinator of Cinderella's Closet, says. “So, we put those dresses into the hands of girls that need them. We have a wonderful selection, and I solicit donations throughout the year from the community.”

Cinderella's Closet will be open one day only ­— March 8. “Our event is run by volunteers; we call them Fairy Godmothers. These volunteers give their time and energy to transform the church into a dress shop. It is amazing to see a girl find ‘the dress' and see her smile.”

“We have not only the beautiful gowns, but shoes and accessories, too, all at no cost.”

The real deal

Real Life Church in Arnold offers girls an amazing deal — a free gown. Teens can browse the selection of gowns March 22 and 29.

Cara Drum, church volunteer and youth director at Real Life, says. “This is our fourth year. I put flyer's up soliciting gowns from all over the community. It's free. Just show up. I do limit it to one dress per girl, please.”

Last year, Drum distributed 40 gowns to excited young ladies who were prom-bound.

I call it the “Free Prom Dress Drive for Girls” Drum says. “We challenged the teenagers in our youth group to come up with a way to reach out to the community, and they came up with this idea.”

“The first year we were open, we held the event on one day, and 12 girls came through. It has really grown. Last year, we decided to host the event on two days, and we had a great turnout,” Drum says. “We have sizes from 0-24, so there is a nice variety of sizes for all figures.

“I love to watch the girls come in, doubting they will find a gown, and then they walk away with something they really love.”

Joyce Hanz is a contributing writer for Trib Total Media.

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