Prom dress sale benefits Project Graduation

By Annie Gentile - ReminderNews
Bolton - posted Wed., Feb. 5, 2014
Eighth-grader Grace Jaworski shopped for a special dress for Class Night, which is held in June. Photos by Annie Gentile.
Eighth-grader Grace Jaworski shopped for a special dress for Class Night, which is held in June. Photos by Annie Gentile.

It wasn’t quite Black Friday, but still a very enthusiastic crowd was outside the doors of Bolton High School on Saturday morning, Feb. 1, waiting for the doors to open on a highly-awaited prom dress sale. The sale - which featured dozens of gently worn, and in some cases brand new, donated prom and formal dresses - was an opportunity for high school and middle school aged girls to pick up that perfect dress at an even more perfect price.

The prom dress sale was organized by Lori Swanbon, a member of the Project Graduation team of parents of high school seniors, and was just one of several fundraisers put on by the organization. Funds raised help to pay for a safe and substance-free post-graduation party for graduating seniors.

“Bolton has an early March winter fall semi-formal and a combined junior/senior prom at the end of May,” said Swanbon. She said the dresses that were donated were valued at anywhere from $150 to $500 and they were being sold for $10 to $70 each, with the average about $50, so girls who came to the sale were getting some great bargains.

The sale was set up in the school library, and a make-shift dressing room was put together by hanging curtains around book shelves and bringing in a few full-length mirrors.  Hourglass Cleaners in Manchester provided display racks for hanging the dresses, and every girl who purchased a dress also received a coupon from Hourglass Cleaners that allowed them to have their dresses dry cleaned after the prom for $10. Several dresses were also donated by the Just Like New consignments shops, which have stores in Vernon and Glastonbury.

“Every dress was given a name and was inventoried by size and price,” said Karen Cordero, a Project Graduation parent who helped out with the sale. She said just two hours into the sale, they had already sold 40 dresses and not just to Bolton girls, but also to some from Enfield, Naugatuck, and in one case, from Vermont. “We also had a couple of brides-to-be come in who came to look for potential formal after-the-wedding dresses,” Cordero said.

Sylvia Ounpuu, a parent of a senior girl, said she pitched in to do a little minor mending on some of the dresses. “This isn’t the first year Project Graduation has held a prom dress sale. It’s just one of several fundraisers the parents of seniors do, and then each year the torch gets passed on to the next group of parents,” she said.

The prom dress sale also featured a tea cup raffle of 28 donated and bundled gift baskets assembled and wrapped by Terry Schaeffer, whose grandaughter is a senior this year, as well as a jewelry and accessory sale to go along with the dresses.

Besides the prom dress sale, Project Graduation Chair Cindy Westerman said the group handles concessions at Bolton High School’s home basketball games. They also have a couple of upcoming fundraisers including a March 1 Foxwoods Casino trip and a March 28 Spring Fling dance for adults to be held at Georgina’s Restaurant.  For tickets and information on the casino trip, contact Marianne at For tickets to the spring fling dance, call Karen Cordero at 860-649-6537.

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