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Students Honor Teacher's Mother

Fashion Show to Benefit ALS Association

Potomac Falls High School seniors Caitlin Ceglowski, Mary Paige Yennie and Kathryn Farwell have been working hard to honor their marketing teacher Kathy Chrisman.

For several weeks, the teenagers have been making phone calls to Dulles Town Center stores, taking students back and forth to tuxedo and dress fittings, and practicing their turns and poses on the school’s stage, to prepare for the second annual student-run fashion show to benefit the ALS Association’s Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia Chapter.

The ALS Association provides information, support and services to people with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS,) also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, and their families.

ALS is a neuralgic disease that attacks the nerve cells leaving patients paralyzed.

"My mom knew what was going on, but she couldn't move a muscle," Chrisman said. "We had to do everything for her."

Chrisman’s mother was diagnosed with ALS three years ago. She said she remembers how expensive it was to take care of her mother. The ALS Association assisted the Chrisman family with services and information about the rare disease for free.

Ceglowski, Yennie and Farwell were freshman at Potomac Falls High School when Chrisman’s mother died, within months of her diagnoses.

"We remember when Ms. Chrisman was going through it, It’s personal," Farwell said. "We wanted to do something to honor her and her mom."

ROBIN SLOPE is a spokesperson for the ALS Association. She remembers Chrisman's family.

"We provided support to the whole family when her mom got sick," she said.

The ALS Association not only provides support to patients and their families, but allows them to borrow expensive equipment such as wheelchairs and communication devices.

"Every patient is different," Slope said. "We lend patients expensive equipment. They can try out what we have and see if it works for them, rather than spending money on something that's not right for the patient."

The ALS Association is a nonprofit organization. Any money donated to the organization goes to research, education and advocacy.

THE FASHION SHOW will feature the latest clothes from American Eagle, Charlotte Russe and JC Penney. The students have also incorporated some of their own dresses they recently purchased for the senior ball scene in the fashion show.

"Everything is in stores now," Chrisman said.

The senior girls have been working hard on the fashion show before and after school and during their study hall period.

"We try and rehearse each scene whenever we can," Yennie said. "We want to make it good for Ms. Chrisman."

The biggest challenge they encountered, Ceglowski said, was getting all of the students together at the same time. It has been difficult for the girls to organize the fashion show during such a busy time of year, but all three agreed, the show must go on.

"It’s for a good cause," Farwell said.

They said they owe the fashion show to Chrisman’s dedication.

"We couldn’t have done it with out her," Yennie said. "She stays after, she keeps on the kids. She is so dedicated to helping us."

ON MONDAY, Dec. 4, Chrisman stayed after school with a handful of students to practice their marks.

Chrisman hopped on stage to show the girls how to walk, turn and pose.

"If you can see them, they can see you!" she said.

The marketing teacher grabbed Yennie’s hand and walked her across the stage.

"This is your mark," she said.

Yennie took the lead and began to show the other students how to strike a pose.

With only a couple weeks until the big night, Chrisman said she is nervous, but confident her students will get the job done. She has known them for four years, and said, she is proud of their dedication to her class.

"It means a lot," Chrisman said. "And the ALS Association is a great organization. It got me through a difficult time."