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February 6, 2006

Bands to battle at teen day

By Rachel Glogowski

A battle of the bands, prom dress swap and other activities are all planned for a free upcoming event for area teenagers.

High school students in private bands will take part in What’s Up, a teen day scheduled for Monday, Feb. 20 at the Elmwood Community Center in West Hartford.

Organizers have many different activities planned for the event, which will run from noon to 4 p.m. and is open to high school students from the area.

“There will be a videogame tournament and an open gym,” said Susan Hansen, a coordinator of the event. “We will have food and prizes, like passes to an ice skating rink, coupons and gift certificates, and a CD/MP3 player.”  Billiards and ping-pong tables will be set up as well.

But possibly one of the most interesting events will be the prom dress swap.  Before the event, girls are encouraged to donate their previously worn formal dresses for the swap.

During What’s Up, they’ll be able to browse through the donated dresses and take one home for $10.

The idea is that girls will swap a few dollars for the dress of their dreams. 

“Basically, girls try on dresses until they’ve found the perfect one,” said Hansen, “and they only cost $10.”

Another coordinator, Conard High School student activities director Penni Grigoraitis, said, “No girl who wants a dress will be turned away for lack of money.”

The money made from the prom dress swap will go directly to the West Hartford Town That Cares fund, which is associated with the town’s social service department. The fund supports anyone who might benefit from the aid, such as the elderly or low-income families.

“We do know that the money is going to a good cause,” said Hansen.

Members of the West Hartford Teen Task Force organized What’s Up, the West Hartford Area Teen Students Ultimate Party.

The Teen Task Force is an organization that is based in West Hartford.  Members are associated with certain teen and student-oriented groups, such as the town’s high schools, family and community centers, and the public library.

“The initial goal (of the Teen Task Force) was to establish a teen center in West Hartford where kids would have a place to go to hang out,” said Grigoraitis, a member of the task force.

It proved to be a success, as the group eventually established a teen center at the Elmwood Community Center.

Last spring, the group decided to resurrect the teen day.

Hansen, a task force member who works in teen services at the West Hartford Public Library, said there used to be a teen day several years ago, but it stopped.

Task force members decided to try it again.

The coordinators of What’s Up are aiming for a successful day.

“We’re hoping for wonderful attendance, and that teens will come and say ‘Oh, this was fun,’” Hansen said. “We’re hoping to do it next year. If we get 100 kids, then we’ll consider it a success.”

What’s Up, held on the first day of winter break for many area students, is free to all public and private high school students in West Hartford and neighboring towns.

It’ll be held at the Elmwood Community Center at 1106 New Britain Ave., West Hartford.

Anyone interested in donating a dress can contact Grigoraitis at (860) 231-5082, Hansen at (860) 561-6996 or Cory McGann, an organizer from Hall High School, at (860) 232-4561.

Organizers are collecting donated dressed until February 10. They can be dropped off in West Hartford at Conard High School, Hall High School, or the Elmwood Community Center.


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