2017-04-06 / Around Town

Prom Fundraiser Another ‘Night to Remember’

By Betsy Sherman Walker


Mary Anne Sconyers, Alize Duarte and Marley Gifford (below) are adding artistic detail to blue jeans for the “Decked Out Denim” part of the fashion show prom fundraiser. (Photos by Jen Carter) Mary Anne Sconyers, Alize Duarte and Marley Gifford (below) are adding artistic detail to blue jeans for the “Decked Out Denim” part of the fashion show prom fundraiser. (Photos by Jen Carter) The last time anyone looked, the price of attending a high school prom was anything but cheap. According to an article posted last April in Seventeen magazine on the rising cost of proms nationwide, spring flings in the Northeast were the priciest in the country, with “promposals” (elaborate invitations staged for posting on social media) costing an average of $431, with an additional $738 being spent on prom night for a total of $1,169.

Two years ago, two Newport businesswomen decided to change both the situation and the mindset, and thus began “A Night to Remember,” the runway-style, high-end fashion fundraiser for the Rogers High School senior prom.

The goal is to lower the cost of the senior prom so that everybody can go.

Jen Carter, owner of Carter Photography, and Lynne Tungett, publisher of Newport This Week, were the initial drivers behind the idea. According to Carter, 48 percent of the students at Rogers High School live at or below the poverty level. “For these kids, prom doesn’t exist,” she says. “They would never even consider going, because they couldn’t. We just wanted to bring them the chance.”

At its debut last year, at the Newport Art Museum, “A Night to Remember” raised more than $8,500. It was a good idea that drew overwhelming support, sponsors and talent from local businesses and organizations.

Local celebrities, among them Newport School Supt. Colleen Jermain, then-Mayor Jeanne-Marie Napolitano and Norey Cullen of Norey’s Star Restaurant, took to the runway modeling outfits and accessories from the racks of local high-end boutiques. Models, many Rogers students, walked the runway in duct tape dresses designed and made by Rogers alumna Haley Pires, who is now a designer in New York City. Design students at Rogers paraded their bespoke “Decked Out Denim,” cosmetology students helped with hair and makeup, and chefs in training at Rogers’ Culinary Arts Academy made and passed the hors d’oeuvres. A clothing drive also collected donated dresses, gowns, tuxes, suits, ties and shoes. (Donated clothing can be dropped off at Michael Hayes Newport, 204 Bellevue Ave.; Newport This Week, 86 Broadway; New England Harbour Club, 63 Long Wharf; and the main office at Rogers High School, 15 Wickham Rd.)


Cecelia Lord and William Delvalle put finishing touches on an Adirondack chair for the event’s silent auction. (Photo by Jen Carter) Cecelia Lord and William Delvalle put finishing touches on an Adirondack chair for the event’s silent auction. (Photo by Jen Carter) Thanks to their efforts, the 2016 fundraiser reduced the cost per student to $20.16. The head count at the prom was 135, much higher percentage wise than previous years.

In addition to defray senior prom costs, a small fund was established to help with the junior prom too.

This has set the stage for the response to this year’s event, scheduled for Thursday, April 13, at Ochre Court. It continues to draw the generous support from the local boutiques, sponsors and designers who once again are more than willing to pitch in.

What’s really satisfying, Carter says, is that students and faculty from Rogers, volunteering time and talent, are stepping up to make it their own. Last year, “Night” was an unknown. “People sort of pooh-poohed it,” she says.

This year, it is being seen through a different lens. From chefs, makeup artists and musicians, “students and teachers are way more excited,” Carter says and adds that a core committee is now helping with the myriad plans.

The highlight of the evening continues to be the fashion show, with many familiar Newport faces modeling outfits from CK Bradley, Laura Jean, Marc Allen, Michael Hayes and Co., New England Harbour Club and Restored by Design.

Featured designers include Iryna Kavalenka, a Russian-born designer who calls herself “an artist that creates wearable art;” Kent Stetson, a Brown graduate whose leather handbags reflect his upbringing on a horse farm; and Boston-based dress designer Colette Chrétien.

It will also be a night to remember for the students at the Newport Area Career & Technical Center (NACTC). “It’s not just about the kids going to prom,” Carter says. “Behind the scenes, students are creating. They’re getting a real-life experience.”

For example, students at the Culinary Arts Academy will have the opportunity to cater a party at Ochre Court. Program Director Steve Kalble's students are involved at every level, from the creative (planning the menu and preparing the food) to the practical (packing up the truck, set-up, and waiting on tables).

“I like to introduce them to standard catering jobs,” says Kalble, a Johnson & Wales-trained chef.

Participation counts as community service, but based on the students’ menu, which includes stuffed mushrooms, bacon-wrapped scallops, crab cakes, quesadillas, chicken satay and Rogers’ “famous” cookies, it seems more like a labor of love than just standing over a hot stove. And as Kalble points out, “It’s fun being at Ochre Court.”

This year’s senior prom will be at The Bohlin, located waterside at the Newport Yachting Center. The fundraising goal is to hold the price at $20.17 per student.

“The big thing is,” says Carter, “that without it they would never have had the opportunity to go to prom.”

TO GO:“A Night to Remember”

WHEN: Thursday, April 13, 6-8:30 p.m.
WHERE: Ochre Court
TICKETS: $35 (VIP $45)
MORE INFO: anighttoremembernewport.com.

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