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Give & Take: April Showers, May Flowers and All Things Prom

Shadae Leslie  Follow

Spring is here, which typically brings April showers, May flowers and all things graduation season. We’ve seen social media taken over by hopeful graduates bracing themselves for the next chapter of life that lies ahead. For many high school seniors, the celebratory transition begins with a special once in a lifetime night: senior prom. 

While this should be an exciting time for students and their loved ones, it can also be an overwhelming one. The financial pressures of college applications, freshman year fees, advanced college courses and so many other costs can remove the option all together of attending prom for many seniors. The average cost of a prom ticket in the U.S. is $100, which doesn’t include wardrobe, hair and makeup and travel costs. That’s what Operation Prom National Network (OPNN) is for. OPNN is a nonprofit organization that helps students from low-income households attend their prom by covering the cost of their prom tickets and providing free prom dresses and tuxedos.

The organization returned this year after taking a three-year hiatus due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Hurricane Ida, which ruined its supplies and inventory in 2021. Headquartered in New York, they have locations throughout the U.S., including Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Georgia and Indiana. Furthermore, in an effort to cater to as many students as possible, OPNN’s staff is made up entirely of volunteers, who do not take a salary. OPNN collects and distributes prom formal wear each school year and covers prom tickets for students in financial need through funds from generous donors.

As you take a trip down memory lane on social media this graduation season, remember the feeling of being on the brink of one of life’s biggest transitions. Though we may lose contact with our high school friends as life takes us onto different paths, we will always have the memories of our years together. For high school seniors experiencing financial hardships, their window of childhood fun often dwindles a bit faster, and the transition to adulthood occurs sooner. As you spring clean your closet this season, consider donating gowns and tuxedos that you may no longer wear to make a senior’s perfect night.

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