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 the originality of design, originality in the 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 a newspaper can be folded, latticed, pleated, and 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, 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 the 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. “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 each quarter with some sort of challenge to stoke students’ creativity 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 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.”

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