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Prom boutique

Making the scene in style
New York Teacher

Katelyn Maldonado (left), a teacher at IS 217 in the Bronx, is impressed by her
Jonathan Fickies

Katelyn Maldonado (left), a teacher at IS 217 in the Bronx, is impressed by her student’s choice.

“The best part of today is seeing my kids smile,” said Katelyn Maldonado, a special education teacher at IS 217 in the Hunts Point section of the Bronx. Fifty students from her school were among more than 2,000 middle and high schoolers from New York City public schools who went to the UFT’s prom boutique on May 10–11 at the union’s Bronx borough office. Students from all five boroughs picked out dresses, shoes, jewelry and accessories for their proms and graduations — and took them home for free.

Attire was donated by UFT members along with the Long Island Volunteer Center, the Princess Project, Jovani Fashions of Manhattan, Soul to Sole, Harvest Fields Church, and Adults and Children with Learning Disabilities.

“I love my dress,” said a 12th-grader from the HS for Contemporary Arts in the Gun Hill section of the Bronx. She said the dresses were organized so well, it was easy to find “the perfect one.” Another senior from the HS for Contemporary Arts who found a prom dress said the formal would be “exciting, because you’re starting a new chapter in your life.”

Eric Neuman, a librarian at MS 118 in Tremont in the Bronx, was happy to see his students get excited about prom and graduation. “The look on kids’ faces when they find things” made his day, he said.

Malinda Diaz, the school counselor at the Bronx Studio School for Writers and Artists in Hunts Point in the Bronx, said prom and graduation “can be cost prohibitive” for many families, but thanks to the UFT, students “get something beautiful and the families have one less expense to worry about.”

UFT members were happy that cost wouldn’t be a barrier for their students to enjoy the milestone after years of hard work in school.

They deserve to “celebrate with their friends,” said Desiree Polonia, a school counselor at Esperanza Preparatory Academy in the Spanish Harlem section of Manhattan.

For some, the day was bittersweet. “I’m going to cry when they leave me,” said Maldonado. Watching her students prepare to move on was “sad but exciting,” she said.

Other educators who were helping their students browse the racks shared Maldonado’s devotion to her students and took note of the fact that their union cares, too.

“As a union member,’’ said Diaz, “I’m grateful to see the UFT doing things not just for members, but for the young people we serve.”

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Related Topics: Serving Our Community