Four Big Bags Of Prom Gowns For Bishop Maginn’s Students

Paris cheering on her friend Madison Chapple.    Photo by Jon Katz ( See more of Jon’s photos here)

I didn’t take a single picture.  I was too busy pulling out gowns, from the four giant orange bags that Jon and I brought to Bishop Maginn today.   Tania Woodward who works at The Mansion gave them to us,  prom gowns she collected over the years.

The long silky skirts wrapped around each other in loose knots, the thin straps tangled and hooked on hangers.  It didn’t take long for a few of the students to join me and Sue Silverstein in separating them.  We straightened out the gowns, hanging them from the line strung across Sue’s art room used for drying prints.  We laid them out on the tables or held up the special ones with big tulle skirts for the other students who stood cautiously watching, to claim.

Soon there were girls all over the dresses, trying them on in the bathrooms, helping each other with the zippers, and giving their opinions on who looked good in which dress.

I held one out to a girl I’d never met before wearing black pants and a black t-shirt. Her hair cropped close to her skull was covered by a black cap.  She told me she didn’t wear dresses.  I suggested one of the short dresses with a pair of pants under it.  She put it another way “Do I look like I wear dresses?” She asked me.

That time I got it.

I loved how she stood up for herself, made sure she was being clear.  I wished I had a tux her size to offer her.

There was one tuxedo in the bags which one of the boys tried on and liked even though it hung off his shoulders.  Some of the other boys jokingly pulled on gowns over their clothes.  But I was serious when I offered the dresses to them in case any of them were really interested.

One girl who sat in the middle of all the commotion staring at her phone as if she wasn’t interested in the least eventually wandered shyly over to Sue and me.  I asked her if she wanted a dress and she nodded her face turning red.  I wasn’t sure where to start, so I asked her what color she liked and she didn’t hesitate. “Pink,” she said. Then asked if any had sleeves.

Sue held up a strapless gown with a long silky skirt and sequined bodice.  The back of the dress tied like an upside-down corset, so I offered to help her once she got the dress on.  The bust was a little big and the skirt a little too long.  But Sue said that’s what socks were for and that the girl’s grandmother could hem the skirt.

When we left girls were walking up and down the hallway wearing evening gowns.  Others had a couple of dresses draped over their arms, headed for the bathrooms.

“Once word gets around the girls will be coming in and for the rest of the day,” Sue said.

It was so much fun watching the students get excited over the dresses, even Jon finally understood the appeal. He didn’t get it when Tania first mentioned the gowns to him. But he started to understand when we picked them up on Sunday and he saw how Tania and I reacted to them.

“It’s a girl thing,” he said. And I could see him trying to grasp it.

Today he experienced the buzz and excitement around the dresses and I could see in his face that he felt it too.

Jon took lots of pictures of the girls in their gowns if you want to smile, take a look at them here.

6 thoughts on “Four Big Bags Of Prom Gowns For Bishop Maginn’s Students

  1. Since that’s my mentee Paris cheering on her friend Madison, is it only the seniors dressing for the prom? (Paris is only a sophomore this year. Or did she try on a dress later?)
    I remember back around 1960 when I was a sophomore in high school going into Boston to Filene’s Basement with my best friend to try on prom dresses-even though neither of us were going to a prom. It was just a fun thing to do.

    1. It is just fun to try them on Marcia.I agree. And the prom is for all students. I don’t know if Paris chose a dress after I left. She can be shy about some things, I think this was one of them.

  2. Yes she is on the shy side. I’ll have to send her a note and gently ask her if she is going to look for a dress.
    I think her older brother is a senior. Jon’s photos were great of all the girls trying on the dresses.

  3. So … If you and Jon are going to the prom, what are you wearing? Hmmmm? Does Jon have a tux? Inquiring minds want to know.

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