Richmond Hill High School’s inaugural Prom Giveaway Expo a smashing success

prom giveaway
Richmond Hill High School’s inaugural Prom Giveaway Expo was a smashing success.
Photo courtesy of Monica Gutierrez

Richmond Hill High School hosted its inaugural Prom Giveaway Expo on Friday, May 10.

Dozens of students attended the event, which aimed to help students facing financial hardships find their dream prom attire. Students gathered in the school’s auditorium, which was transformed into a boutique experience, complete with mannequins and clothing racks that had a variety of suits and dresses for them to choose from.

The students were able to successfully take home prom dresses, suits, graduation outfits, shoes and accessories. Donations were made by the Nassau County Police Department and other local organizations.  

The school’s principal, Tarek Almarie, partnered with The Gaton Foundation and Shonda’s Prom Closet to organize the school’s first-ever prom dress and suit expo giveaway. Almarie said the event was important for students who may lack the resources to have their dream prom experience. “No student should feel less than any other student because they can’t afford a prom dress or suit,” he said. “I’m committed to bringing in as many resources and partnerships as possible to support my students. These are students who began their high school journey during the height of the pandemic and have persevered through so much.”

Richmond Hill High School students were able to choose from a selection of shoes to complete their dream prom attire. Photo courtesy of Monica Gutierrez

Many of the students modeled their new clothes on stage, and were met with resounding applause as they said “yes to the dress.” Nicole, a senior, said she was excited to go home with a dress for prom and graduation. “I was struggling thinking about having to go out and find dresses because everything is expensive nowadays. But then I tried on this really nice blue dress which was off the shoulder and really flowy. I just thought it looked cute and it was approved by my peers, so I am set.” she said.

Other students, like Ahanaf, were excited to go home with suits they could wear for both prom and upcoming job interviews. “I feel great because I am graduating this year and I have some interviews coming up. This is going to really help raise my self-esteem… I am just so thankful to the foundations,” he said. 

Students had an array of prom attire to choose from. Photo courtesy of Monica Gutierrez

Kristen JM Wiltshire, CEO of The Gaton Foundation, shared her excitement in seeing the students fall in love with their dream prom attire. “The high you get from seeing the students’ self-esteem soar as soon as they put on that dress and people clap when they say ‘Yes!’ – it’s just amazing,” she said. 

Candace Hutson, Director of Shonda’s Prom Closet,  echoed Wiltshire’s views, saying that the student’s reactions to the event make all the hard work worth it. “It’s a lot of work to put on an event of this nature, but you get to the day of, and you see the students’ faces, and you’re reminded why you do it again and again each year,” she said. 

A few select students who need hair, makeup and nail services will be selected to go to a high-end salon in SOHO and receive complimentary services on prom day, June 5.