At the end of September, Gorman gave her students a pile of newspapers donated by the Conroe Courier and The Prowler, the student paper, and told them to make a dress. The class had already been talking about hemlines, necklines, and dress styles, the project was their chance to put what they learned to use. Last year students did this project using Barbie dolls but this year they get to go life-size.
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By the end of the week, there were eight dresses of various lengths and styles. The designs ranged from a traditional ballgown, to a classic mermaid tail skirt, to a more contemporary dress inspired by a cactus. After they were complete, Gorman had fellow teachers and Facebook friends vote for their favorites from each class, then displayed them in the classroom window for the rest of the student body to see.
Students were put into groups and started sketching designs. The majority of the dress had to be made out of newspaper but they were also allowed to use items like colored paper, rhinestones, and ribbon to make the design more dynamic.
Last year, Kimberly Gorman, the fashion design teacher, had to be very selective about the projects her students could do, since many were still taking school online. This year, with her students back in the classroom the group projects can commence.
“I have seen this project done on Facebook before from some other teachers,” Gorman said. “I was inspired to do it by them, and these kids just ran with it. I showed them a Project Runway video to give them an idea of ‘Hey this is what we’re leaning towards.’”
The students aren’t using sewing machines quite yet so the newspaper was a more affordable alternative that also allowed them to be creative, work together, and utilize the skills and knowledge they had already acquired.
“I’m so impressed,” Gorman said of her student’s creations. “They had so much fun with this.”
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Angie Castro, a sophomore at Caney Creek, was one of the students that designed the winning design for their class, a one-shoulder dress inspired by the style of the 60s and 70s, and the sci-fi show Star Trek.
“I’ve always loved fashion since I was little and I want to continue being in fashion, that’s what I want to go into for college,” Castro said. “(The project) taught me how to work through my ideas and actually get it to be done. I learned new ways to make details.” The largest project was a ballgown style dress that took five people to move, making sure that the large skirt and details on the hem all stayed in place. Caden Brown, a sophomore at Caney Creek and a member of the ballgown team, said he joined the class to try something new.
“It felt like paving a road without concrete,” Brown said of designing and making a dress out of newspaper. “The original design was supposed to be short and simple, but the ambition is as big as (the dress).” Hard work pays off is the lesson Brown is taking from this particular project.