SOUTH FORSYTH -- Mad Hatters strutted down the stage, the Cheshire Cat grinning widely behind the glittering blue, red and green dresses at South Forsyth High School DECA’s prom fashion show Friday evening.
The event, themed “DECA in Wonderland,” featured 48 male and female student models who donned prom attire from A Formal Affair in Roswell and Tuxedo WearHouse in Cumming.
Nancy Ruff, South’s advanced fashion marketing teacher and DECA adviser, said the marketing and business club has held the event for at least 15 years, which serves as a fundraiser to help DECA members attend conferences and competitions throughout the year.
“This gives them the opportunity to participate when maybe they are shut out of other school activities,” Ruff said.
Students are challenged with learning how to produce a professional fashion show, given event planning is an important part of marketing, but the event also stresses inclusiveness and included five special needs students in this year’s show.
“I am so proud of our DECA members who opened their hearts to include all students, even those with disabilities, in our fashion show,” said Ruff.
Fashion marketing student Mira Patel, a junior at South, said she was pleased with the event.
“Helping put together this fashion show has taught me a lot about both marketing and teamwork, but the best part about the experience is finally seeing all the hard work pay off,” she said. “I’ve been able to watch everything fall into place.”
The event also featured dance and musical performances by South students, and elementary students were invited to walk the runway at the 6 p.m. show.
“We had a full house both shows,” Ruff said. “I particularly loved the attendance from our larger school community, notably girls from local elementary schools who had the opportunity to model on stage.”
Isabelle Englund, the club’s vice president of publicity, and DECA member Jack Johnson were crowned queen and king of the show.
Angel Gonzalez and Cameron Smith were crowned prince and princess.
South’s DECA chapter is the largest in the world and has held the title since 2009, boasting more than 1,200 members.
Students compete in regional, state and international competitions yearly, which include both a written component such as an exam or report and an interactive component with an industry professional serving as a judge.
The school had 31 wins at the regional competition in December, including nine first-place wins, four second-place wins and seven third-place wins.
Those who placed regionally will attend the state competition, which is scheduled to run Feb. 16-18.
Teams who win at the state level will travel to Anaheim, California in April for the international competition.
The money raised at Friday’s event will go towards students’ travel expenses.