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Stop the presses! Thomas Stone High School fashion design students take recycling to new levels

There’s fast fashion and there’s yesterday’s news. Students in Thomas Stone High School’s fashion design class embraced both with an assignment to create a garment and accessories using newspaper, ribbon, teamwork and ingenuity.

Hollis Hay, who teaches fashion design, financial literacy and architecture and interior design at Thomas Stone, said the assignment serves as an ice breaker and team builder at the start of the school year. “I start with newspaper dresses because sometimes you have to think outside the box,” Hay said of getting students to collaborate creatively. “What a fun way to get to know the kids in your class and build relationships,” Principal Shanif Pearl said.

A fashion show recently took place in the locker-lined hallway outside of Hay’s classroom, the models walking a red carpet by judges — the judges at the morning show were Pearl, Assistant Principal Jasmine Bateman, Assistant Principal Curry Werkheiser and resource teacher Melissa Veneracion. The designs were scored on a scale of one to five focused on originality of design, originality in use of newspaper, craftmanship, newspaper accessory and overall appearance. Each of the two fashion design classes participated in a runway show. On Monday, each class’s show resulted in a tie between two teams.

Make it work
Before groups get to work, Hay goes over how newspaper can be folded, latticed, pleated, made into rosettes, fringe and other embellishments. Then in teams of four or five, students worked to create a garment and accessories with material emblazoned with bylines, sports scores and comic strips. 

Fashion design is a fine art credit in which students learn the principles and elements of fashion and the history of fashion. Hay, who was a Family and Consumer Science major in college focused on textile and jewelry design, taught art and worked with students in a home and hospital program before coming to Charles County Public Schools.

She said she looks for assignments that will challenge students to analyze and use design principles while getting hands-on experience working with material to create a garment. It’s just not a material that most would think to use. “This is why dresses are not made from newspaper,” Cole Bergling, a sophomore, said.

“We did find it very challenging,” Bergling’s teammate, Adali Hernandez, a freshman, said. “But once we started to put things in place, we just did layers on layers until it came together.”

Another lesson learned was a dress wasn’t going to come together overnight. “Patience. I learned patience,” Kennady Hawkins, a sophomore, said.

Fashion forecast
Hawkins said she signed up for fashion design to try something different. “I want to explore different options and it seemed interesting,” she said. Hawkins helped design a dress for teammate Caitlyn Bromfield, a senior, to wear in the show.   

Hay would like to start off each quarter with some sort of challenge to stoke the creativity of students and get the wheels turning for future projects. The students are all for it, judging from the enthusiasm displayed at the fashion shows. “It’s a reminder that the students’ enthusiasm is what makes us all want to be teachers,” Hay said.

Upcoming lessons include designing with plastic bags, magazines and unconventional materials — think dry pasta or fake flowers. Students will delve into line drawing, embroidery, silk screening, bead weaving and macramé.

After Monday’s fashion show, students are ready to dive deeper and challenge themselves. “I thought this wasn’t going to work,” Bromfield said, looking down at her dress and around the room at other teams as they made last minute tweaks to their newspaper creations. “But it works.”

About CCPS

Charles County Public Schools provides 27,000 students in grades prekindergarten through 12 with an academically challenging education. Located in Southern Maryland, Charles County Public Schools has 37 schools that offer a technologically advanced, progressive and high quality education that builds character, equips for leadership and prepares students for life, careers and higher education.

The Charles County public school system does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, national origin, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, age or disability in its programs, activities or employment practices. For inquiries, please contact Kathy Kiessling, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (students) or Nikial M. Majors, Title IX/ADA/Section 504 Coordinator (employees/ adults), at Charles County Public Schools, Jesse L. Starkey Administration Building, P.O. Box 2770, La Plata, MD 20646; 301-932-6610/301-870-3814. For special accommodations call 301-934-7230 or TDD 1-800-735-2258 two weeks prior to the event.

CCPS provides nondiscriminatory equal access to school facilities in accordance with its Use of Facilities rules to designated youth groups (including, but not limited to, the Boy Scouts).