By Paige Lambert
Inside of a Lehman High classroom where computers line the walls is a boutique filled with dresses and accessories of every kind.
From sleek, contemporary attire, to poufy dresses that mirror the days of yore, the small space located in a closet caters to fashion styles of every kind.
But for those who operate the boutique called Cinderella’s Closet, the premise behind it goes far beyond placing dresses on the racks.
Giving Hays CISD students a chance to obtain attire for prom when they otherwise may not be able to afford it is the priority.
“We can make a dream come true. For some girls, (prom) is a dream come true,” Lourdes Queen said. “They can dream like they are a Cinderella. It’s great to help those students.”
Adrianna Tedrick, a Lehman High teacher who organizes the boutique, said the program helps male and female students find formal wear for events such as prom and the military ball.
Cinderella’s Closet, which operates as a nonprofit, allows students to select formal wear at no cost.
Students are allowed to sign out the formal wear and accessories, such as shoes and jewelry, to go with it.
The premise, according to Tedrick, is to help students offset the potentially extravagant costs of going to events such as the prom. Tedrick said prom dresses could cost upward of $200 dollars, with costs rising for those who decide to attend at the last minute.
“It puts them at ease that they are able to borrow a dress for that evening, so they don’t have to stress about that expense on the night,” Tedrick aid. “They can then focus on their hair, makeup and other expenses.”
To accomplish their goals, Cinderella’s Closet, which is open all year, takes in clothing donations from the public.
Kohavy Enriquez, who has taught at Lehman for seven years and worked as a sponsor with Cinderella’s Closet for two, said the program gets a “lot of dresses” each year.
Sponsors promote the need for donations throughout the district via email and by word of mouth. Tedrick said they also work on organizing Cinderella’s Closet and making sure dress styles are up to date.
In 2016, Cinderella’s Closet received 30 to 40 gently used dresses.
“They can drop it off at any school, or they can bring it to us,” Enriquez said.
Providing assistance are students of the Lehman High National Spanish Honor Society.
NSHS students organize and run the shop before and after school and during lunches. In addition, the students also advertise the boutique by creating posters and placing them across campus.
Lehman High sophomore Lizbeth Rodriguez, who is part of the NSHS and helps with the Closet, said she understood how expensive finding the right dress is.
With Cinderella’s Closet, Rodriguez said she’s seen the joy friends have with finding the perfect dress.
“It’s a good time seeing them looking for a dress, knowing that one of us helped them out find a dress at no cost,” Rodriguez said.
The program also helps students with making sure their hair is also perfect for prom night. Last year saw Cinderella’s Closet work in conjunction with the Lehman Cosmetology class to help students.
While Cinderella’s Closet is the only such program in the district, Enriquez said the program does help students at Hays High.
She said last year the program had “a couple of kids” from Hays High look for dresses.
Other organizations have worked with Cinderella’s Closet to meet their needs. Tedrick said the program lends dresses to Lehman’s photography class for photo shoots.
Tedrick said the goal of the program now extends to finding more tuxedos for the closet. She said they currently have more prom dresses than men’s formal wear.
But for the group, the ability to allow all students to have a memorable prom night is key. Its longevity continues, even after a small fire in the culinary class a few years ago caused extensive water damage to dresses.
“We may not know the background of the student. They may not have the finances to pay for anything like that. They area afraid to ask at home if they can go to prom,” Queen said. “This is a way to make it possible for them.”