This year, however, three Freedom High School students are looking to change all that through an innovative, simple and generous program designed to provide every needy Cinderella with her own fairy godmother.
It's called Senior Dreams and the vision is simple: any senior girl in need of a dress for the prom can receive one by merely filling out a program application. All requests will remain anonymous and confidential.
"Senior prom is one of the biggest things, and we don't believe any girl should miss out because she can't afford it," said Amanda Geyer, one of the founders of Senior Dreams. "We hope we can get help to everyone who needs it."
The idea for Senior Dreams was born during a brainstorming session in the Peace and Conflicts class attended by classmates Loloa To'o and Angela Smith. It was Loloa who came up with idea, having heard about it through friends in San Francisco who had worked on a similar project at another school.
Because proms are typically more expensive for the girls, who need dresses, shoes and accessories, not to mention hair and nail styling, plus other accoutrements, the group decided to make the Senior Dreams project a girls-only event, at least for the first year.
The current plan is for the group to collect donations of gowns, accessories or money. Financial contributions will go into the club bank account and will be evenly divided sometime this spring.
The Senior Dreams club, however, is not a campus-only endeavor. Figuring they could garner even more support if they became an official on-campus club, the trio, under the direction of teacher Jill Johnson, won approval for club status last month, and have been moving ahead ever since.
"I'm very proud of these students," said Johnson. "They're organized and together. The only reason they need me is to have a name to put on letters for donations. They're a remarkable group."
And they're a group that's dreaming big. To date, Senior Dreams has sent out letters to corporations, from Mervyns to Chanel and Vera Wang. The group has even sent letters to Oprah and Tyra in the hopes of eliciting a substantial donation. "We're hoping to get a lot of community support, too, and will be dropping off flyers at local businesses and homes," said Loloa.
For now, the group is working to get the word out, stressing the importance of confidentiality. "We will be the only ones who will know which girls received help from the club, and that's the most important thing," said Amanda. "I can't wait to go to the prom and see girls that we helped, walk up to them and say, 'I love your dress.' That will feel so great."
For more information on the Senior Dreams program, call 470-8860, or send an e-mail to email@example.com.