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Principal Gathers Prom Dresses for Texas School


I'm Melissa Block.


I'm Robert Siegel. And this is ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

BLOCK: A follow-up now to a story that ran last month on the program. I visited Shoemaker High School in Killeen, Texas, which is home to Fort Hood. Nearly all of Shoemaker's 2,000 students have at least one parent in the military, many of them deployed in Iraq.

In that report, school counselor Barbara Critchfield described how the absence of parents is inescapable.

Ms. BARBARA CRITCHFIELD (Counselor, Shoemaker High School): We had a football game a couple of years ago, and that school sent a plant to us telling us that they were thinking about us. They had noticed the absence of parents on our side of the stadium during the football game.

BLOCK: Now here's the follow-up: I got a phone call from David Waters. He's the principal of Timberland High School in Wentzville, Missouri. He heard our story and decided he wanted to do something for Shoemaker too. He's on the phone to tell us what he's come up with. And Mr. Waters, what's your plan?

Mr. DAVID WATERS (Principal, Timberland High School): Well, we've developed a project called Dresses for Texas. We are collecting those prom and homecoming dresses that oftentimes are only worn once, and we're going to have hopefully 250 dresses collected by Easter to send to the students down there at Shoemaker High School.

BLOCK: And how many do you have so far?

Mr. WATERS: When I left work Friday we had about 110. And so we're about halfway home, and we figure by Easter we'll be in good shape.

BLOCK: Well, we also have Barbara Critchfield, the counselor from Shoemaker High, on the line. Barbara, what do you think about all these dresses headed your way?

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: It's phenomenal. I'm not sure if we've even ironed out how we're going to distribute the dresses or even, you know, how that's going to be done. I think we're still kind of working on that end of it. But it's just so nice, you know, of them to do that for us.

BLOCK: David Water, what about - you're taking care of the girls here, what about the guys?

Mr. WATERS: Well, as we gather the dresses, we are doing some fundraising on the side and we're trying to think about some ways that we might work for some of the tuxedo rental companies to help us on that end of the project.

BLOCK: And you're telling me that if this goal is met, 250 dresses, that you will...

Mr. WATERS: I will be wearing a prom dress to school on the Monday following Easter if we hit our goal of 250 dresses.

BLOCK: What's your size?

Mr. WATERS: I don't know a dress size. I've never tried one on, but I'm sure I'll have lots of help.

BLOCK: Barbara Critchfield, when we were talking about this last week, you mentioned that you have had some other offers of help coming in.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Oh, yeah. We've had several schools that heard the story. There's one in Virginia that wants to fly over and drop teddy bears on our school.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: Well, what's the idea there? They'd be flying over the school, you said.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Yes. They are actually a military boarding school, if I have it correct, and they first are going to send postcards, I think, to all the kids here at Shoemaker. And then they want to do some type of a pen pal-type exchange. And then by the end of the year, they want to actually fly over with a helicopter and drop teddy bears.

BLOCK: So you just have to be ready and make sure nobody's on the track or something when that...

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Yeah, I don't know where - I don't know how. We're still working on that one.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: You know, Barbara Critchfield, all of these ideas sound really great and heartwarming, but I'm just thinking about the one thing that all the kids there were telling us, which is the one they wanted most was to know that their mom or their dad might be home for - whether it's graduation or prom or some big event coming up, and that's the one thing that you obviously can't give them.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Right. You know, we can't fix that. We can try to make it - in between now and then, try to make it a little easier for them, we hope.

BLOCK: Well, Barbara Critchfield and David Waters, thanks so much to you both.

Mr. WATERS: Thank you.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Thank you. And thank you, Mr. Waters.

Mr. WATERS: Yes. Well, Barbara, we hope that a little bit helps, and we look forward to getting them down there to you.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Oh, we're excited. We're ready.

BLOCK: Keep us posted on how it's going.


BLOCK: And we want those photos of you in that dress.

Mr. WATERS: Yeah.

Ms. CRITCHFIELD: Yeah, we would like that as well.

(Soundbite of laughter)

BLOCK: David Waters is principal of Timberland High School in Wentzville, Missouri. He's organizing Dresses for Texas to send prom dresses to the students at Shoemaker High in Killeen, Texas. That's where Barbara Critchfield is a school counselor. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

United States & World Morning EditionAll Things Considered
As special correspondent and guest host of NPR's news programs, Melissa Block brings her signature combination of warmth and incisive reporting. Her work over the decades has earned her journalism's highest honors, and has made her one of NPR's most familiar and beloved voices.