Amber Johnson’s art students at Diamond Elementary School put on a fashion show Tuesday for fellow students, teachers, administrators and parents. They designed, assembled and then wore outfits made from recyclable material.
Even Superintendent Dr. Samantha Ingram took part. Johnson said the superintendent is getting married soon, so she made her a wedding gown out of bubble wrap and shiny white trash bags. The trash bags were twisted to look like white carnations that trimmed the skirt and made up the bodice. She even had a trash-bag flower in her hair.
Other fashions used newspapers, wrapping paper, duct tape, tin foil and Capri Sun pouches.
Third-grader Kaylee Marshall posed with Johnson and her Capri Sun handbag as students hurried to get into their outfits. Second-grader Ryan Moten chatted with a friend as she leaned against a wall, one arm behind her head. Her outfit was a colorful blouse made from potato-chip, corn-chip and Cheetos bags and a skirt of white paper plates.
“At the beginning of the school year, I asked my students to volunteer to make clothes out of recyclable material,” Johnson said. “They had the entire school year to put a complete, wearable outfit together.”
She said this is the show’s second year, but it is the first the fashions were entered in the Wearable Recyclable Fashion Contest sponsored by the Smithsonian Art Museum in Washington, D.C. She said Diamond Elementary had three students take third place, two take second place and one first place winner. An in-house contest also recognized Diamond Elementary School winners, she said.
Special education teacher Deb Staisuk helped kids get into their outfits without tearing skirts and shirts. Staisuk wore shredded and folded computer paper dress made as she helped fourth-grader Allison Martin staple a plastic belt to hold up her black trash bag skirt.
“I recycled my students’ contracts to make this dress,” Staisuk said, laughing. “Amber conned me into doing this, then emceeing for the fashion show.”
When all the students and participating staff were dressed, the fashion parade moved up one hall and down another, led by Johnson and Ingram. Students sat on the floor, but jumped up as the parade approached. Staisuk seemed to set the pace, leading students in a chant, “Recycle. Recycle. It makes a difference. Recycle.”
“I wanted our students, kindergarten through sixth grade, to learn that once you use a material, you can re-use it for another need,” Johnson said.
Ingram and Nathaline Simons, Diamond’s science, technology, engineering and math program facilitator, said the project encouraged students to use all the subjects of the STEM program.
“The fashion show helped students see they can be creative,” Simons said. “Can you imagine wearing recyclable outfits in the future? It’s motivating and inspiring. We’ve enjoyed what they’ve created. Ms. Johnson did a great job.”