o thank the Fashion Careers students at Fairfax Academy for the Arts, Teri Reaves, the Vice President of the Falls Church Chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority visited with a “Thank You” cake. Students Kylie Heo, Carmaine Esguerra, Enkrina Burulova, Fashion Careers Instructor Jin-A Chang, Hana Mahle, and Kriti Bhagat surround Fashion Careers instructor Jin-A Chang and Vice President of the Chi Beta Omega chapter of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Teri Reaves. The base school of all these students is Fairfax High School.
Photo courtesy of Erin Bloom
The Falls Church Chapter, Chi Beta Omega, of the Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority collaborated with the Fashion Careers class at Fairfax Academy for Communication and the Arts to exceed their chapter goal of dresses sewn for the nonprofit Little Dresses for Africa. Although this is one of the many AKA community projects, it is their first time collaborating with the Academy.
The Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority was “founded at Howard University in 1908. It’s the first sorority founded by, and for, women of color, to help and serve all mankind” said Lynn Perry, chapter president.
As a service sorority they work in the community and world through a variety of projects. The target areas their service focuses on include “Educational enrichment, health promotion, family strengthening, environmental ownership and global impact,” said Perry.
AKA chapters from across the nation will bring their chapter’s completed dresses to Atlanta for the national conference in July. Among the places in Africa the dresses will be packaged and shipped to are Southern Africa, Zambia and Botswana, said chapter Vice President Teri Reaves. Chi Beta Omega’s goal was each of their 29 members sewing a dress, Perry explained. Their collaboration with the Fashion Design class has helped them to exceed that goal. Chi Beta Omega will contribute 50 dresses towards AKA’s national goal of 20,000.
The dresses themselves are a fairly simple pattern, said Jin-A Chang, the Fashion Careers teacher. The dresses are made from brightly colored pillowcases and ribbon. Even with no sewing experience it can probably be completed in three days, Chang said.
Consequently for the students, who spent the year developing their technical skills designing high fashion from concept through creation, the chance to create dresses from pillowcases made the “students happy, because the dresses were easy,” in comparison, said Jin-A.
Chi Beta Omega provided the class all the materials for the 20 dresses. Thirty-five students in the Fashion 1 and 2 classes worked on the dresses, which they completed in 5 days.
“I was so impressed with the students’ excitement and their commitment to the project. I really felt that they felt a sense of accomplishment,” said Reaves.
To thank the students Reaves visited them with a cake expressing Chi Beta Omega’s gratitude in pink frosting. Reaves talked to the students about the AKA and the sorority’s dedication to service. She spoke about the girls in Africa that would ultimately receive the dresses. “They may never know the impact, the effect on those little girls,” Reaves said, “how the simple dresses the students made will help the girls … boost their self-confidence… show that they can be somebody.”
Reaves hopes that this is the start of Chi Beta Omega’s relationship with Fairfax Academy for Communication and the Arts. The diversity of skills and talent the school has would be useful in many of the upcoming projects, Reaves said. “Many of our service projects are public… we want the community involved,” Reaves said.
The base schools represented by the 35 students who worked on the dresses include a variety of high schools: Fairfax, Oakton, Robinson in Fairfax, Woodson in Fairfax and Centreville, Chantilly, Falls Church, Herndon, James Madison in Vienna, Marshall in Falls Church, McLean, South Lakes in Reston and high schools in Springfield and Chantilly.