HBHS fashion show raises money for Catie’s Closet

HOLLIS – Spring is the time when students showcase their talents, often the culmination of a yearlong class. There are concerts, plays, author’s teas, art exhibits and other events to demonstrate what has been learned.

Sometimes, these activities also involve raising money for charity, and this year was no exception.

On May 21, there was a fashion show at the high school, with proceeds going to Catie’s Closet, a charity that provides gently used clothing and toiletries to needy students. Students got to set goals, be creative, and help others at the same time.

New class offered

This year was the first time a class in fashion merchandising was offered at the high school. As Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Candice Hancock explained, the department was in the process of modifying its curriculum.

“We tried offering a sewing class, but no one signed up for it,” she said. “I thought of fashion and retail merchandising, and I have 16 girls in the class.”

Throughout the term, the girls studied fashion trends and how clothes are marketed. The bookwork was done several weeks ago, and Hancock was beginning to wonder how to continue to make the class interesting for the remainder of the year when someone handed her a flier from Catie’s Closet and she had her answer.

The flier was encouraging organizations to collect gently used clothing, and the class spearheaded a weeklong clothing drive, but Hancock decided to take it one step further by having the girls put together a fashion show for a final project.

Four Seasons fashion show takes shape

A calendar theme was chosen, with fashions for each month and season. Students in the class invited friends and relatives to serve as their models, and most outfits were put together from items people already had in their wardrobes.

Saks Fifth Avenue also loaned outfits from their 2014 spring line. Models went to the Merrimack Premium Outlets store to select what they would wear on the runway during the final segment of the fashion show.

Courtney Wilson got to be the first one down the runway as the month of January, wearing a long black dress with a lacy knit top and a festive New Years crown. Her sister, Hannah, was the January designer.

“I always thought it was cool,” Courtney said about modeling. “I’ve watched the Victoria’s Secret fashion shows. I’m glad I got to be a part of it even though it has been nerve-wracking.”

Kailey Creamer served as the designer for the month of May. She asked her brother, Dylan, to be her male model, paired with her friend Bianca Soucy, and chose springtime floral prints.

“I really like clothes, so I thought it would be interesting to take the fashion class,” she said.

And not to be outdone by the teens, some staff members served as models as well. For November, art teacher Brigitte MacMillan looked stylish in a maroon dress and leather boots as she posed with English teacher Michael Fox, sophisticated in a purple sweater and beige slacks, holding, naturally, a book.

The fashion show was quite a family affair. Hancock’s daughter, Mackenzie, said she was excited to help her mom by modeling a spring outfit, while older brother, John, in addition to modeling, helped paint the stage. Young children of various staff members also had their shining moment to walk the runway and strike a pose in their special threads.

“Taking this class has been a really great experience for me, especially doing the fashion show,” said Hannah Wilson, who plans to study fashion merchandising at University of Delaware next year. “It was harder than I thought it would be to coordinate all the models, get the audio and video together, and it’s been very time consuming, but I’m really excited to see it come together. It’s been tricky because we have never done this before, but it’s a good time.”

Shoes, food and proceeds

In addition to the clothing, there was a special segment where shoes were modeled. Art teacher Brigitte MacMillan explained how she had discovered a design contest sponsored by Vans shoes. She downloaded shoe templates, and her students chose from the categories of art, music, sports – surfing, biking or skateboarding – and local flavor. Students voted on the winning designs, and those shoes were modeled during the show and on display in the lobby. Winners were Magnolia Moskun, Taylor Collins, Livvy Simmerman and Ryan Papineau. The school design winners will be entered in the Vans national contest, with a chance of winning $50,000.

Upon entering the lobby, guests were greeted by cheerful students and a combination of delicious aromas. Members of the culinary class provided refreshments cooked on premises: chicken bites wrapped in bacon, peanut butter squares and salted pretzel brownies.

Proceeds from the sale of refreshments, as well as donations, added up to more than $350.

More than 85 boxes and bags of clothes were collected during the two-week drive leading up to the fashion show. Some were displayed on a wall with inspirational messages attached, written by members of the H”B” Change Club. Recipients of the garments will be greeted with notes like, “You are the best version of yourself,” “Act as if it’s impossible to fail,” and “Don’t forget to smile.”

Don Kasper, of Sports Momentum Photography, volunteered his services to capture the action on the runway. To see his album of photographs, go to http://momentum

Catie’s Closet

Catie’s Closet is named after Catie Corcoran, who was born with a connective tissue disorder that affected her heart. She graduated from Lowell High School and was a sophomore at Bridgewater State University with dreams of becoming a teacher when she died four years ago. Her mother, Ann Marie Corcoran, spoke during the fashion show to talk about Catie and her desire to help others.

Based in Dracut, Mass., Catie’s Closet gathers gently use, stylish clothing and toiletries so homeless and needy students can blend in at school. Corcoran told stories of a girl who went to school in a bathrobe because it was all she had, and a boy who lives with his dad in a car.

“Lack of clothing is one of the major reasons for absenteeism,” she said. “We are the only in-school resource in the country. We are currently in 21 schools. Students can get what they need immediately from Catie’s Closet in their schools. They can get clothes, deodorant, shampoo so they can feel good about themselves, go to school and get an education.”

For more information, go to www.catiescloset.org/.

More student giving

To read about Hollis Brookline Middle School’s Empty Bowls fundraiser, also on May 21, see p. 11.