2017-04-20 / Life in Leelanau

Senior project makes prom more affordable

By Patti Brandt Burgess
Of The Enterprise staff


SUTTONS BAY High School seniors Lyndsey Dalzell, left, and Katelin Windemuller hold up some of the prom dresses they’ll be donating to the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City. The dresses are leftover from a dress swap the pair organized as their senior project. SUTTONS BAY High School seniors Lyndsey Dalzell, left, and Katelin Windemuller hold up some of the prom dresses they’ll be donating to the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City. The dresses are leftover from a dress swap the pair organized as their senior project. A prom dress is usually only worn one time. So with lots of wear left, the dresses are ideal for donating or swapping for another ‘new’ dress.

That’s what Lyndsey Dalzell and Katelin Windemuller thought, so they started Prom Dress Swap as their senior project after a suggestion by a teacher.

The idea is that girls could come in and shop for a dress — with all dresses priced at $5 — or they could bring in a used dress and trade it in for a different one.

“This whole thing was so that people could buy a dress and feel pretty without having to spend $100 on a dress,” Dalzell said.

Proceeds from dresses that were sold were given to Leelanau Christian Neighbors, though many people just donated dresses or made a swap, Dalzell said. The pair raised about $40.

The dress swap was held several times this year, starting in January, at Immanuel Lutheran Church in Suttons Bay.

But with more dresses donated than taken or purchased, the girls ended up with about 80 dresses that they’ll donate to the Women’s Resource Center in Traverse City.

Some of the dresses at the school were left over from the previous dress swap done by another Suttons Bay student, Bridgette Kulpa, who graduated several years ago.

But with so many dresses, they were taking up too much room at the school, Dalzell said.

Both Dalzell and Windemuller donated dresses, though both seniors purchased new outfits for Saturday’s county-wide prom. Windemuller said she saw a couple of dresses she would have worn this year, but they didn’t fit.

This year’s prom will be held from 8:30 to midnight Saturday at the Leelanau Sands Casino & Lodge in Peshawbestown.

The event has been held in the casino showroom for several years, said Jennifer Walter, a Northport School English teacher who is on the prom committee.

This year’s theme is Mardi Gras, said Walter, who is also the junior advisor at Northport.

All four public schools and St. Mary School in Lake Leelanau are represented on the prom committee by students and school personnel. They meet once or twice a month through the school year.

“The kids run the show,” Walter said. “They decide on the theme and the colors and divvy up the duties.”

The prom is for juniors and seniors only, and there is usually a deejay playing pop and hip-hop music, she said. There will also be four chaperones from each school.

Walter has been teaching at Northport for the last seven years and said the county-wide prom has been held for at least that long.

“It’s really so smaller schools can have a prom,” she said. “Otherwise Northport wouldn’t have one, St. Mary wouldn’t have one because they’re so small.”

It also gives students around the county a chance to socialize in a venue other than on the sports field.

“It’s really nice to see them come together for something friendly, because they tend to be really competitive during sports season,” Walter said.

Both Dalzell and Windemuller said dances aren’t usually that big of a deal.

“But this year it kind of is because it’s our last dance with everyone,” Windemuller said.

They also like that the prom is for juniors and seniors from all over the county.

“You can meet new people, make new friendships,” said Dalzell, whose boyfriend just turned 21 and can’t go as the prom is only for those who are under the legal drinking age.

“He just had his birthday and now he’s too old,” she said. “Plus, I just want to do a high school thing.”

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