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Published February 17, 2013, 11:30 PM

Davies’ Project Unify Prom Fashion Show promotes inclusion

FARGO – Decked out in a suit and a tie, Michael Names offered advice to his peers who were nervously and excitedly waiting to walk down the runway Sunday at Davies High School.

By: Anna G. Larson, INFORUM

FARGO – Decked out in a suit and a tie, Michael Names offered advice to his peers who were nervously and excitedly waiting to walk down the runway Sunday at Davies High School.

“Don’t worry; it’ll be fine. All you have to do is walk and have fun,” Names said.

After sliding around in his black dress shoes backstage, the high school junior made his way down the lit runway in Davies’ gym and gave the crowd a thumbs up.

Names and the other Davies students came together for the Project Unify Prom Fashion Show DECA Project.

Project Unify is an effort by three students to strengthen the relationships between students with and without disabilities.

The fashion show mimicked a prom grand march and students got to walk down the runway multiple times while the crowd cheered.

“We want to make sure everyone is included and excited for school,” said junior Allison Cwikla, who participated in the show.

Junior Brenna Greenwood described the experience as making the students with disabilities feel like a prince or princess for the day.

All students who participated wore attire donated for the day by The Bridal Shop. Other area businesses donated items for the raffle and fashion show as well.

Paul Butler, one of the organizers of the event, says he and the two other student organizers, Katie Spokely and Alex Quam, wanted to promote togetherness rather than separation at their high school.

“I feel like a lot of people are scared to talk to the students with disabilities just because they don’t know how to approach them,” Butler said. “But they’re just like us.”

Butler described Sunday’s event as a “promlike experience without the pressure of it being prom.”

Shea Huseby and Ben Cavalier, both sophomores at Moorhead High School, were in the audience to support Huseby’s girlfriend, Davies student Paige Leier.

“I think this is definitely something that could benefit other schools,” Huseby said.

Cavalier remarked that everyone seemed to be having a great time as they walked the runway.

“This is way cooler than I expected,” he said.

Butler, Spokely and Quam started Project Unify as a DECA public relations project that they’ll present at the state conference in March.

“We truly do have this feeling that regardless of how we do in the DECA conference, this project has potential to continue after this school year,” Butler said.

Butler moved to Fargo from Utah this school year and said that the DECA project falls in line with other volunteer work he did in Utah.

“I’m kind of an advocate for community inclusion,” he said. “I don’t think anyone could walk away from an event like this with negative feelings.”

Sunday’s fashion show was one event of several that the three DECA members have organized this year.

Proceeds from the fashion show will be donated to the school’s special education wing.


Readers can reach Forum reporter Anna G. Larson at (701) 241-5525

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