Sara Swanson

Graduation gown recycling program for Manchester High School

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2017 graduating seniors in their maroon and gold graduation gowns posing outside of Klager Elementary School

Graduation gowns, worn for a few hours at the most, can cost almost a hundred dollars if purchased at the last minute, and unless the graduate has a younger sibling of the same size and gender, unlikely to be worn again. The Manchester Ladies Society, who’ve successfully run a Prom Dress recycling program the last 4 years for Manchester girls going to prom, are starting up, with the permission of the High School, a similarly-organized pilot-program for graduation gowns. If you have any gold or maroon graduation gowns in the back of your closet that you would be willing to let a Manchester High School senior wear next year, please bring it to the front desk of the Manchester District Library, any time they are open.

Depending on the numbers collected, the Ladies Society may open up a full-fledged “graduation gown shop” in the school library, where gowns can be tried on and taken for free by students as an alternative to ordering a new one. If fewer gowns are collected, they will work with guidance counselor Hollie Kolcz to get gowns to targeted students who may not be able to afford a gown, or who may have forgotten to order a gown, or who prefer to wear a used gown and save money.

While some high schools own a set of heavy-duty, higher quality graduation gowns, they pass out to students before the graduation ceremony and pick up afterwards, others, like Manchester, have opted to go with inexpensive, lightweight, “disposable” gowns that students purchase themselves and keep. While these gowns have been borrowed and re-used in the past, it is not clear how many times they will be able to be re-used as they are prone to snags. That is just one hurdle this endeavor faces.  Another is that there is currently discussion at the High School to move to a single color, either all gold or all maroon, for next year’s graduation. If this change occurs, the Manchester Ladies Society stated that they will make sure that they gowns they collect in the unused color will be passed on to a nearby high school using that color for their graduates to use and will not go to waste.

The Manchester District Library continues to collect formal dresses as well, for the Ladies Society’s Free Prom Dress Boutique which will be held early next spring. Both dresses and graduation gowns can be donated year-round. The Manchester Ladies Society is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization, and as with dress donations, you will be given a receipt for taxes with your graduation gown donations.

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