04/30/08 — They went to the prom ... in duct tape

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They went to the prom ... in duct tape

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on April 30, 2008 1:52 PM

Ambitious high school seniors typically begin searching early for ways to pay for college.

Those with stick-to-itiveness usually come out ahead.

At least that's what Rosewood High School seniors Amber Leeming and C.J. Albee are hoping.

Back in November, C.J. stumbled upon an online scholarship contest based on originality and product use. Duck brand duct tape sponsors the annual "Stuck at Prom" contest, offering up to $3,000 in scholarship money to those who attend prom wearing duct tape.

"That was the excuse we needed. It sounded like fun," C.J. says now.

Since December, the students worked on their respective outfits -- a tux for C.J., strapless floor-length gown for Amber.

But not in the traditional duct tape color of metallic gray. The couple opted for a fluorescent green and black theme, with a splash of hot pink.

Everything was done by hand, created from their imaginations.

Amber had a working knowledge of sewing, so was able to construct her own pattern.

"I made duct tape fabric -- taking a piece of cotton fabric, laying pieces of duct tape on top of it. Instead of sewing it together, you just tape it together," she explained. The only actual sewing involved a zipper.

The hardest part was the shoulders on his jacket, C.J. said, and for Amber, getting the actual forms and curves right on the dress.

Accessories were also made from duct tape -- C.J.'s vest and Amber's purse, plus coverings for their shoes -- even the boutonnière and corsage.

C.J. estimated he used about 10 rolls of tape, while Amber's dress took about 13.

"It cost about $40 less than renting a tux, about $30," C.J. said.

"I spent maybe $50 on all my duct tape," Amber added. "So maybe it cost us $100 for the total prom."

The unveiling on prom night was not a complete surprise.

"We told a few people and all of a sudden everybody knew about it," Amber said.

Prior to attending the event, though, they went out to dinner.

"We had random people stopping us before the prom with their camera phones, asking to take our pictures," C.J. said.

"Everybody wanted to take pictures. I think we spent an hour taking pictures once we got there," Amber added. "Everybody was just so amazed that we did that with duct tape."

While the weeks of preparation might have been "nerve-wracking at times," Amber said, things turned out well.

"It was pretty fun the whole way through. It made all the trouble worth it," C.J. said.

"Whether we get the scholarship or not," Amber added. "It was probably one of the most entertaining and amusing nights."

Although an outfit of duct tape would not seem to be the most comfortable thing to wear, it wasn't really that bad, the students said.

"To begin with, it was a little stiff. After we moved around awhile, it got easier," C.J. said.

They are still getting comments.

Amber, who works at Premiere movie theater, said she is recognized often as "duct tape girl."

With prom behind them, though, it's on to planning graduation and preparing for college.

Both will attend UNC-Greensboro in the fall. C.J. received a N.C. Teaching Fellow scholarship and is leaning toward teaching chorus at the high school level. Amber said she is also favoring a career teaching high school band and chorus.

The day-glo outfits now hang in closets at home, but might be taken out again in the future.

"We've already talked about when we go to UNC, wearing them to music camp," Amber said with a smile.

Unless, of course, their entry wins the online scholarship competition this June.

"If you win, you actually have to send in your outfits, and they'll put them on display for the next year's scholarships," she said.

Whether the creations net them money for college or not, though, the Rosewood seniors agree it made for a memorable prom.

"I know 50 years from now, I won't forget it," Amber said. "It'll be one of those happy memory things."