Next to graduation, prom night is one of the most anticipated events for high school seniors. The formal soirée is a rite of passage, an evening of dancing and fun with friends — the perfect excuse to ask your crush out on a date. But for many, finding an affordable and stylish dress can be daunting.
To help ease some of that stress, Ava Mogelefsky, of Bellmore, a junior at John F. Kennedy High School, has helped distribute more than 60 prom dresses since March to Long Island students with the school’s chapter of Becca’s Closet, a national nonprofit dedicated to helping high school students in need.
Mogelefsky, the Bellmore-Merrick chapter president of Becca’s Closet, is enrolled in the district’s three-year leadership program. This year she is taking the Leadership II class, in which projects and initiatives encourage juniors to emerge as young leaders in the Bellmore-Merrick community.
“Students in the Leadership II class were tasked with the responsibility to implement and lead a civic-based activity,” Brad Seidman, an instructor of the course, previously told the Herald. “It is a part of the program goal to help students understand what it means for them to have a voice in school and community issues.”
According to Mogelefsky, Becca’s Closet has collected more than 300 dresses since the start of the school year. Although the project started out as an assignment, she said that over time, it has become more of a mission.
“I did this by reaching out to the Bellmore-Merrick communities by posting on various Facebook pages and letting people know I’d even pick up the dresses,” she explained to the Herald. “I was then able to put together a committee of passionate teens to help sort and organize dresses as they came in, and we will help style students as they make their dress choices.”
Becca’s Closet was created by Rebecca Kitman, a 16-year-old Florida high school sophomore who died in an automobile accident in 2003. Kitman recognized that there were many girls in her community who were unable to attend their high school proms and Homecomings because they couldn’t afford to purchase formalwear for the dances. Becca’s Closet chapters are active in several states.
Mogelefsky utilized social media, local social services resources, and Kennedy High’s guidance advisers to connect with students in need of formal wear for dances and other events.
“Prom is a time in a teen’s life that ends one chapter and is the most exciting start of a new chapter in life,” she said. “I would like every young person entering that new chapter to feel beautiful and be filled with confidence no matter their body type, style or economic needs.”
Many of the students who came to Mogelefsky for help found dresses they liked. If a dress was too large or too long, she helped the student decide on shoes and alterations to make sure their prom night would still feel special.
Mogelefsky had the help of two freshman friends, Jordyn Kratenstein and Julie Lehrfeld, who collected and sorted dresses.
They said they enjoyed the experience, because they interacted with people they normally wouldn’t have, outside the Bellmore-Merrick school district.
“At first it was chaotic with the piles of all different kinds of dresses,” Kratenstein said. “There was so much, and not many of us to do it. It took us a long time, but somehow, we did it.”
For more on the local chapter of Becca’s Closet, go to BeccasCloset.org/chapters.