About 40 refugees who chose to attend Cottonwood High’s prom in American formal dress could do so, thanks to donations raised by a student group.
For the second year in a row, members of the school’s Colture Club, named after the school mascot Colts and for cultural awareness and acceptance, found about 100 donations of formal dresses, shirts, coats, ties and shoes for refugee students who speak more than 40 different languages at Cottonwood High. One student, Barbara Kufiadon, alone donated 20 dresses for the students.
“Many of these students are bused to our school and we want to include them in our activities and connect with them,” Colture Club president and senior Emily Ostler said. “This is a way they can be involved and have a chance to go to the prom. At the same time, we encouraged them to wear their native dress if they liked.”
The club not only provided formal dress, but also corsages and transportation to the prom, which was held Feb. 21 at Union Station, Cottonwood High Community School Director Megan Olsen said.
Olsen said that there are about 150 students who are refugees at the school that has an enrollment of 1,320. About 100 international students attended prom. She said when Granite High School closed in 2009, school boundaries changed and more refugee students began to attend Cottonwood High.
“We offer interactive sessions at lunch, such as cultural sharing, games and activities,” Olsen said. “For many of these students, their families are still adjusting to living here and this way, we can help them with the transition.”
Emily’s brother, Matt, began the school club and prom drive last year.
“When Cottonwood High’s boundaries changed to include these students, it changed the footprint of our school, so he wanted to make a difference,” Matt and Emily’s mother, Sheila, said. “Last year as a senior, he ran for student body office and wanted to unify our school and to welcome international students.”
Ostler said her son didn’t win, but kept his campaign promise and began the Colture Club along with Madeline Hansen. She estimated the club, which meets at lunch, has about 100 students participate.
“They kept it simple, so everyone was included, and at lunch, since many students had to rely on school buses instead of their own transportation. They wanted to make everyone connect and appreciate one another’s cultures. These students are taking it upon themselves to bridge the gap in the student body,” she said.
Olsen said that currently the students are exploring options to include prom dinner for the international students, and perhaps, maintaining a permanent prom clothing closet at the school.