Skip to main content

Local companies pitch in to give students all-expenses-paid graduation looks


A group of local businesses is giving back by helping make graduation an extra-memorable time for a few special students.

From hair and makeup to custom gowns and suits, four high school students will enjoy an all- expenses-paid graduation experience thanks to a September social media post.

Local designer Jessica Halabi posted to Instagram last fall offering to help a student graduate in style with a free custom gown.

"It is the first huge milestone in the early adulthood life, maybe some people don't think that it's a big deal but it is always really memorable for people who get to experience it and I just want to make a good memory for kids," Halabi said.

The post quickly took off and soon other businesses were offering to chip in to help round out the grad experience, offering accessories, limo rides and beauty services.

"It was amazing, all these local companies, businesses, they wanted to join me and they offered so many other amazing things and it ballooned into four graduates," Halibi said.

Alliah Oldpan was nominated for a gown by her teacher and recently had her first fitting. She said it's everything she'd hoped for and she feels beautiful wearing it.

"[It]feels amazing. I never thought I would get this so I'm very thankful," she added. "It honestly was a relief because I didn't have to worry about the finances."

Oldpan's dress would normally cost between $800 and $1,200. It's around the same price as a custom suit donated by Jacky Phung, owner of Suits by Jacky.

Phung worked with Chad, a graduate from the Alberta School for the Deaf, to create a special look.

"This cause makes a lot of sense to me," Phung said. "We came from humble beginnings and just giving back means a lot to our mission and our purpose to help people out."

To top off his look, Chad spent some time with barber Willie King at the Alberta Barber Academy.

King remembers growing up not having a lot of money, so he was excited to give someone the opportunity to have a style they might not otherwise be able to afford.

"I want to give him something that is a little bit different than he's used to," King said. "I want to give him something to go out with a bang."

Halabi said it's been an emotional process and she's touched to see so many other people willing to help with the project.

"Too many to list," she said. "It's been amazing how many people have supported us, all the community pulling through.

"And the most important thing is the effect it's had on all four students and their lives and how it's helped them take a weight off their shoulders for graduation." Top Stories

Stay Connected