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April 05. 2013 10:30PM

Prom-themed fashion show will help more kids to afford going


Senior Sara Pickman modeled a sparkly pink prom dress on the catwalk at Thursday night's Cinderella Project Fashion Show at Londonderry High School. APRIL GUILMET/photo 
LONDONDERRY - A Londonderry High School senior with a passion for fashion is hoping she can make prom night extra special for countless girls in need.

Last fall, when Rakia Achab chose her year-long senior service project, she said she knew right away what she wanted to do.

"I love fashion and I love helping other people," Achab said. After meeting with her staff mentor, English teacher Michelle Wooding, she learned about the Cinderella Project of New Hampshire.

Based in Allenstown, the nonprofit charity collects donations of new and gently used formal dresses and accessories, which are donated to disadvantaged high school students throughout the state allowing them to go to the prom in high style. To date, more than 4,000 Granite State teens have benefited from the Cinderella Project, according to the organization's website.

Achab, who just learned this week she's been accepted in the fashion communications and promotions program at Lasell College, said she's been hard at work over the course of the school year, fundraising, collecting dresses and organizing her first public event, a prom-themed fashion show at her school on Thursday evening. For the entrance fee of $2 (or a gently-worn prom dress) attendees were treated to a colorful fashion show featuring the latest formal fashions by David's Bridal store.

Another one of her teachers, Ashley White, works part-time at the store and loaned Achab several dozen new dresses for the 25 student models to strut down the catwalk. Other peers helped out with hair, makeup, lighting, photography and wardrobe.

A handful of the show's dresses came from Londonderry High School's own collection of donated dresses from the Queen's Closet, which provides prom outfits for low-income students in the local district.

Achab said the plan is to continue collecting dresses through mid-May. Many area businesses pitched in to assist in her efforts this week. Sales of raffle tickets raised more money for the cause, with help from Wendy's, Hair Update, McDonald's, Dunkin' Donuts, The Coach Stop, Mack's Apples, Connie Wall's Lia Sophia and Haircuts Plus.

Now in its third year, the elective senior service program allows students to pursue a topic or idea of their choice throughout their senior year, under the guidance of a staff mentor. Special talents and skills honed during their years spent at the high school are emphasized, with the end result being an in-depth community service or volunteer experience, a job shadow or internship, a performance or creative project, or finished product like a rebuilt engine, a completed novel or an art portfolio.

aguilmet@newstote.com

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