Austintown Fitch class learns stylish lessons in tolerance

By Elise Franco


Fitch students hope a class project turned communitywide effort will give some female classmates the chance to have their own prom experience.

The goal in Steve Ward’s Literature for Tolerance class at Austintown Fitch High School is to teach students about activism and promote causes that help others.

That’s why he was pleased when his class organized a dress drive to collect old prom, homecoming and bridesmaids dresses for Fitch girls who can’t afford to buy new.

He said the idea came from a website called, which is running its own Prom For All campaign through June 22.

“We talk so much about the theory of tolerance and how to put it into action,” he said. “We looked at what we could do, as a class, and the [students] came up with ‘Prom for All.’”

Anyone with prom, homecoming or bridesmaids dresses they no longer want or need can bring them to the high school cafeteria from 7 to 8 p.m. Thursday.

The class will set a date for sometime in September for girls to pick a dress for free that they can wear to the homecoming dance in October, Ward said.

Laura Green, 18, said the dress drive was the best option as their class project because she knows how expensive a formal dance can be. Green said donating old dresses will put them to better use than allowing them to hang, unused in a closet.

“When it comes to these dances, it ends up being a lot of money,” she said. “After you wear it, you’re probably not going to do anything more with it.”

Gabby Butcher, 15, said the dress drive is meant to give everyone, even those who can’t afford a new gown, a chance to experience prom and homecoming with the rest of their classmates.

“Every girl deserves to look and feel pretty,” she said.

The average female in the United States spends $1,078 on prom, and 1 in 4 families can’t afford to send their children to prom, according to

Dominique Loibl, 17, said the response of the Fitch student body was unexpectedly positive, and they have collected about 35 dresses. Loibl said when the class created Facebook and Twitter pages to get word out about the drive, messages from students at other schools began pouring in.

“We’ve gotten messages from kids at Chaney, Ursuline and Boardman who all want to donate,” she said.

Ward said he’s surprised but not shocked by how many people want to help.

“When you start with one small idea and it branches out, it gets other people excited because you’re excited,” he said. “This is an amazing concept that turned from a couple of kids to a bunch of people helping.”

For more information visit Fitch’s PromForAll on Facebook or follow @AF_HC_PROM4all on Twitter.

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