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Welcome to the Bear Boutique

Featured Photo from Welcome to the Bear Boutique

With the help of community partners, parents at Winter Springs High School are making sure everyone can be Best Dressed for prom and homecoming

Arguably, one of the most important and highly anticipated events in a girl’s high-school life is prom night. More than a formal dance and celebration, it can be a rite of passage filled with anticipation and mixed emotions as she leaves school, and sometimes home and friends, to pursue her future as a young woman.  

Shopping for the perfect formal dress for the big evening can be exciting and fun, but for some, it’s a source of anxiety. Today’s prom dresses are costly, and for girls who do not have the resources to purchase one, it can mean the difference between attending or not attending. 

Believing that all girls should have the opportunity to go to prom, the Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) of Winter Springs High School opened the Bear Boutique, a makeshift clothier stocked with an assortment of fashionable new and gently-worn gowns and dresses.  

“It was several years ago that the PTSA started Bear Boutique,” explains Melissa Weathers, PTSA president. “Last year, one of our PTSA members, Kathy Odendahl, and her husband went to Seminole Towne Center where a local radio station was hosting Operation Princess Project. The station was giving away dresses to economically disadvantaged girls who needed them for prom or other formal occasions. When the event was over, they gave the dresses left over for our boutique.”

Cindy Morgan, vice president of the PTSA, says that through the efforts of the Odendahls, other PTSA parents, and members of the community, they have collected more than 300 new and gently-worn dresses in the boutique from which girls can choose.

“Students can check with the school’s front office for days and times on which they can come to the boutique, which is located in the drama room,” says Cindy. “There, PTSA volunteers will help them select a dress from the boutique. The girls have fun, and they’re welcome to choose one or more dresses, if they wish.”

We’re very proud that the Bear Boutique can offer girls at Winter Springs High an opportunity to find a beautiful dress so they can participate in prom and homecoming,” adds Melissa.

In the future, the PTSA is considering offering prom accessories for boys – vests, suspenders, ties, bowties, and dress shirts – but project leaders say it will take a commitment from male volunteers to make that happen.

“One of the things I always say is that it’s never a bad thing to care for somebody,” says Peter Gaffney, principal of WSHS. “Our PTSA put this together to help students who might not have the resources to get a prom dress. For them to step up and put this together is an incredible gesture. We take care of our kids and try to do what’s best for them at all costs. The Bear Boutique is one way of telling them we care.”

To learn more about the Bear Boutique, email Melissa Weathers at

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