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Madawaska High School to let students ‘adopt’ prom dresses

MADAWASKA, Maine — Several years ago, local business owner Phyllis Levesque donated a collection of formal dresses to Madawaska High School. The dresses were intended to be used for the school’s drama program, which has not operated for a few years due to low enrollment. Only a handful of the dresses were ever used, and the majority sat with their price tags, some reaching as high as $600, still on.

Madawaska High School students on Thursday will be able to “adopt” a dress to wear to the prom from a collection that was donated to the school several years ago. (Courtesy of Maria Toussaint)

Maria Toussaint was chaperoning an event at the school earlier this year when she noticed the dresses, 100-150 of them by her estimation, in the backstage area. Seeing them unused, she asked Madawaska High School’s Principal, Wayne Anderson, if she could take a closer look at them. Together with teacher Lisa Welch, she spent an afternoon organizing the dresses by size, and had an idea. Prom is an expensive event, and many families struggle to spend hundreds of dollars on a dress that may only be worn once.

After obtaining permission from the school department, Toussaint developed a plan to “adopt” the dresses out to local families. Madawaska students will get to have their pick of the dresses, take them home, have them altered, and wear them to prom. Students do not have to return the dresses, but Toussaint asks that recipients do not sell them. She asks that they instead donate them after their prom.

The high school is happy to see the dresses used. Principal Anderson “would rather see them worn by young ladies in the Valley than collecting dust forever and ever.”

At present, the school intends to let Madawaska High School students have their pick of the dresses, and offer what remains to other deserving students in neighboring communities such as Van Buren, Fort Kent, and Frenchville.

 Madawaska students will choose a dress 6-8 p.m. Thursday, April 5, in the Madawaska High School cafeteria. Questions about the event can be directed toward Lisa Welch at Madawaska High School, at 207-728-3371.

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