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This Is What Teenagers Really Think About Prom

This Is What Teenagers Really Think About Prom

"I just want to eat pancakes and go to the movies!"

Posted on May 2, 2017, at 5:22 p.m. ET

On April 22 in Jamaica, a neighborhood in Queens, New York, the prom dreams of girls from local high schools and middle schools became a reality at Say Yes! to the Prom Dress.

The event, hosted by the Greater Jamaica Development Corporation, was the culmination of a clothing drive that provided girls in need of prom dresses with new or gently used gowns — for free.

Oceana Porter (center) shows Dina Palaguachi (left) and Herline Pradere (right) how to vogue in their new dresses. Porter, the CEO of the dance fitness company Rebels by Ocean, was the host of Say Yes! to the Prom Dress. "Everybody deserves the opportunity to have the dress of their dreams," Porter said.
Julius Constantine Motal

Oceana Porter (center) shows Dina Palaguachi (left) and Herline Pradere (right) how to vogue in their new dresses. Porter, the CEO of the dance fitness company Rebels by Ocean, was the host of Say Yes! to the Prom Dress. "Everybody deserves the opportunity to have the dress of their dreams," Porter said.

Photographer Julius Constantine Motal, who attended the event for BuzzFeed News, met some of the teens and heard firsthand their thoughts and expectations of prom night:

On an overcast Saturday afternoon middle school and high school girls, from all over New York City, waited in line in front of the Harvest Room, an event space in Jamaica, Queens, hoping the doors would open soon. They had one thing in common: None knew what they were going to wear to prom.

This was Say Yes! to the Prom Dress, a collection of dresses donated so that all students could afford to attend their proms — wearing the fanciest dresses of their dreams. Racks of dresses sat opposite tables full of shoes and jewelry. Each girl combed the selections thoroughly. There was no time for social interaction, lest they lose the best finds.

The event ended with a mini fashion show: The girls showcased their new outfits and transcendent transformations, and lifted the spirits of everyone there.

Vanessa Rosario (second from left) combs through the selection of dresses for the perfect outfit.
Julius Constantine Motal

Vanessa Rosario (second from left) combs through the selection of dresses for the perfect outfit.

1. Casandra Dormuez — eighth-grader at Queens United Middle School 289

Julius Constantine Motal

Casandra said that her dress is "a nice transition into high school." When asked if she has ambitions to be prom queen, she giggled and nodded. Her ultimate goal though is to have a good time and make memories.

Julius Constantine Motal

Casandra said that her dress is "a nice transition into high school." When asked if she has ambitions to be prom queen, she giggled and nodded. Her ultimate goal though is to have a good time and make memories.

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Julius Constantine Motal

Casandra said that her dress is "a nice transition into high school." When asked if she has ambitions to be prom queen, she giggled and nodded. Her ultimate goal though is to have a good time and make memories.

2. Dalime Feliz (left) and Vanessa Rosario (right) — both seniors at The Green School

Julius Constantine Motal

Dalime and Vanessa are best friends and will be going to prom together, hoping to have the best night ever. "My hope is that I become prom queen," said Dalime. For Vanessa, the dress "is very exciting because it's so beautiful," she said.

Julius Constantine Motal

Dalime and Vanessa are best friends and will be going to prom together, hoping to have the best night ever. "My hope is that I become prom queen," said Dalime. For Vanessa, the dress "is very exciting because it's so beautiful," she said.

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Julius Constantine Motal

Dalime and Vanessa are best friends and will be going to prom together, hoping to have the best night ever. "My hope is that I become prom queen," said Dalime. For Vanessa, the dress "is very exciting because it's so beautiful," she said.

3. Esther Reyes — senior at Achievement First Brooklyn High School

Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to eat pancakes and go to the movies," said Esther Reyes, who is more focused on her plans after prom than prom itself. She's going with her best friend, who she said she didn't give her much of a choice in the matter. After high school, Esther is bound for Yale, where she'll pursue a double major in race and ethnicity migration and political science.

Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to eat pancakes and go to the movies," said Esther Reyes, who is more focused on her plans after prom than prom itself. She's going with her best friend, who she said she didn't give her much of a choice in the matter. After high school, Esther is bound for Yale, where she'll pursue a double major in race and ethnicity migration and political science.

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Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to eat pancakes and go to the movies," said Esther Reyes, who is more focused on her plans after prom than prom itself. She's going with her best friend, who she said she didn't give her much of a choice in the matter. After high school, Esther is bound for Yale, where she'll pursue a double major in race and ethnicity migration and political science.

4. Cheriese Gissentanner

Julius Constantine Motal

"When I put this dress on, I feel so beautiful," said Cheriese Gissentanner, who declined to giver her class or school.

Julius Constantine Motal

"When I put this dress on, I feel so beautiful," said Cheriese Gissentanner, who declined to giver her class or school.

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Julius Constantine Motal

"When I put this dress on, I feel so beautiful," said Cheriese Gissentanner, who declined to giver her class or school.

5. Dina Palaguachi — eighth-grader at Robert A. Van Wyck Middle School 217

Julius Constantine Motal

Dina Palaguachi said her dress is "pure joy and happiness," and that her hope for prom is "to be happy and to be with my friends."

Julius Constantine Motal

Dina Palaguachi said her dress is "pure joy and happiness," and that her hope for prom is "to be happy and to be with my friends."

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Julius Constantine Motal

Dina Palaguachi said her dress is "pure joy and happiness," and that her hope for prom is "to be happy and to be with my friends."

6. Jasmine James — senior at Hillcrest High School

Julius Constantine Motal

"My hope is that I have lots and lots of fun," Jasmine James said.

Julius Constantine Motal

"My hope is that I have lots and lots of fun," Jasmine James said.

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Julius Constantine Motal

"My hope is that I have lots and lots of fun," Jasmine James said.

7. Jewelesa Lopez — eighth-grader

Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to have a good party with my friends," said Jewelesa Lopez, whose 8th-grade prom is coming up soon. Of her new dress, she said, "I just feel special in it, like a princess."

Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to have a good party with my friends," said Jewelesa Lopez, whose 8th-grade prom is coming up soon. Of her new dress, she said, "I just feel special in it, like a princess."

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Julius Constantine Motal

"I just want to have a good party with my friends," said Jewelesa Lopez, whose 8th-grade prom is coming up soon. Of her new dress, she said, "I just feel special in it, like a princess."

8. Persia Johnson — senior at the High School for Arts and Business in Queens

Julius Constantine Motal

"I'm beautiful in different ways," said Persia Johnson. This dress, she added, helps to bring that out. Persia also has no desire to be prom queen. What she really wants, she said, is to have an amazing night with her friends and her date.

Julius Constantine Motal

"I'm beautiful in different ways," said Persia Johnson. This dress, she added, helps to bring that out. Persia also has no desire to be prom queen. What she really wants, she said, is to have an amazing night with her friends and her date.

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Julius Constantine Motal

"I'm beautiful in different ways," said Persia Johnson. This dress, she added, helps to bring that out. Persia also has no desire to be prom queen. What she really wants, she said, is to have an amazing night with her friends and her date.

9. Shayna Aarons — senior at the Institute for Health Professions at Cambria Heights

Julius Constantine Motal

"I feel so pretty," Shayna Aarons said of her new dress, adding that she hopes prom is the best night of her life.

Julius Constantine Motal

"I feel so pretty," Shayna Aarons said of her new dress, adding that she hopes prom is the best night of her life.

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Julius Constantine Motal

"I feel so pretty," Shayna Aarons said of her new dress, adding that she hopes prom is the best night of her life.

10. Tiarrah Wilson — senior at The Bronx High School of Science

Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress means I get to finish high school with experiencing everything," said Tiarrah Wilson. "I just want to have fun." When asked if she knows who she's going to prom with, she responded with an emphatic, "Nope!"

Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress means I get to finish high school with experiencing everything," said Tiarrah Wilson. "I just want to have fun." When asked if she knows who she's going to prom with, she responded with an emphatic, "Nope!"

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Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress means I get to finish high school with experiencing everything," said Tiarrah Wilson. "I just want to have fun." When asked if she knows who she's going to prom with, she responded with an emphatic, "Nope!"

11. Yahaira Downes — 8th grader at New Beginnings

Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress brings me back to where I came from," said Yahaira Downes, who is originally from Grenada. Yahaira added that she wants "to have fun and celebrate with people I knew for four years."

Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress brings me back to where I came from," said Yahaira Downes, who is originally from Grenada. Yahaira added that she wants "to have fun and celebrate with people I knew for four years."

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Julius Constantine Motal

"This dress brings me back to where I came from," said Yahaira Downes, who is originally from Grenada. Yahaira added that she wants "to have fun and celebrate with people I knew for four years."

Free dresses line the racks at the Say Yes! to the Prom Dress event in Jamaica, Queens, New York City.
Julius Constantine Motal

Free dresses line the racks at the Say Yes! to the Prom Dress event in Jamaica, Queens, New York City.

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