Bishop Hendricken High School will celebrate its milestone 40th annual Fashion Show on April 10 with fashion, prizes, food and some blasts from the past.
Held at Rhodes on the Pawtuxet, the fashion show is one of the school’s largest fundraisers, bringing in roughly $20,000 each year to support the school. Tickets are $45 each and can be purchased in advance.
The Bishop Hendricken Parents Council organizes the show each year, and this year’s co-chairs are Jennifer Silvio, Lori Lepizzera and Carol Boesch.
“It builds community. It’s a lot of fun,” said Hendricken President John Jackson, commending the Parents Council for putting 100 percent toward the event year after year. “People genuinely have a good time doing it.”
To celebrate the fact that the show has been going on for 40 years, in addition to the traditional vendors, raffles and modeling by a select group of Hendricken seniors, there will be alumni from the past 40 years participating in the show, as well as former event chairs.
“Because it’s been 40 years, we really wanted to capture that,” explained Silvio. “For it to go on this long is something special and it’s their work that got it there.”
Silvio added that they are still working to connect with alumni and former chairs who would like to participate in the show, and hopes they will reach out in the coming weeks by contacting the committee or Caren Cotoia, assistant business office manager at Hendricken and the Parents Council moderator.
The committee is also looking for pictures of past shows to create table centerpieces. The committee can be contacted at email@example.com, or Cotoia can be reached by calling the school at 739-3450 ex. 117.
When the show started in 1974, the school’s gym would be transformed into a fashion runway. But as it grew in popularity, the venue needed to change.
“This group cannot be contained,” said Silvio of the crowd that averages 700 women each year.
Silvio and Lepizzera are parents of juniors at Hendricken, but they have wanted to work on this event since before their sons were Hawks. They attended a show together with friends while their sons were in eighth grade and knew they wanted to run it. “I said we’re gonna chair this event in our junior year,” said Lepizzera.
“I love that it brought all those women together, almost 700 women in one place,” added Silvio.
The two said the event is a lot more than just a fun night out with the girls.
“It showcases the boys. We sat there and said this is going to be our boys,” said Lepizzera.
Jackson added that the event can often serve as a recruiting tool, getting the mothers who attend when their students are in the younger grades to see what a Hendricken education can do. “They see the Hendricken seniors and see how they have grown and matured over the years,” said Jackson. He added that as the seniors walk in the show, a biography of their many accomplishments and aspirations for the future is read, which is a great opportunity to showcase the students.
This year’s event will be no different, providing a platform to showcase the successes of some of the seniors and a fun night out for the women who attend.
The evening starts with a red carpet style entrance, complete with paparazzi made up of students in Hendricken’s digital photography club and media arts program. Then, during cocktail hour, the attendees can visit the many local vendors set up around the ballroom area. Silvio and Lepizzera called it boutique style shopping, and items range from jewelry to candies to home items.
During cocktail hour, attendees also have the opportunity to purchase raffle tickets for the 30 to 40 large baskets put together by the Parents Council. The most coveted prizes are often the Class Baskets, made by the Hendricken students.
“We make these huge displays the women can try their luck at,” explained Lepizzera.
The baskets are themed gift cards, scratch tickets, automotive and off to college; Silvio recalls winning over $1,000 worth of gift cards one year.
“I had to hide it,” joked Silvio.
In the past, other baskets included Red Sox tickets, a Providence Performing Arts Center package, restaurant certificates, clothing, Disney passes and various liquor gift baskets.
The raffle tickets are sold throughout cocktail hour by the Hendricken senior models.
“It’s a nice friendly competition between them as to who can sell the most tickets,” said Lepizzera.
The Committee helps to select the group of 25 seniors to participate, but Jackson has the final say. The boys are usually from a cross section of the student population, but all have outstanding accomplishments to share.
“They like to be seen in front of 700 women; they’re proud of their accomplishments,” said Jackson with a laugh.
The boys selected also must go through runway training and sales training.
Following cocktail hour, a three-course dinner is served and the show starts. In addition to the group of seniors who walk the runway in tuxedos, Hendricken faculty and staff also take part. This year, Sonya’s in Cranston, Carl Anthony Tuxedo and Stalise boutique in Portsmouth are providing clothing for the show.
“It’s intimidating to walk in front of 700 women,” joked Jackson, who has walked in the show previously but has yet to decide if he will take to the runway again this year.
However, Father Robert Marciano, pastor at St. Kevin’s and a graduate of Hendricken Class of 1975, and Pete Shepard, a local talk radio host and Hendricken graduate from the 1980s, are two of the alumni who have agreed to participate in the show. Additionally, WPRI’s Patrick Little will once again serve as Master of Ceremonies. The Committee is also working on getting other Rhode Island celebrities to attend.
While the fashion and prizes may be enough to attract the crowd, Silvio and Lepizzera say it is the tradition that brings everyone back and brings in new guests.
“I think the friendships [draw crowds]. We have moms whose sons graduated years ago, and they still reserve tables,” said Lepizzera.
Silvio added that knowing the money goes to a good cause also helps. She added that the show also has quite a reputation. “When you say your son goes to Hendricken, their first reaction is ‘Oh, I love the fashion show,’” said Silvio.
Another valuable member of the committee is Cotoia. In addition to helping organize the show each year, she is helping with reserving tickets.
Tickets can be reserved now by contacting Cotoia by email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tickets can also be purchased online for the first time this year; visit hendricken.com/giving/fashionshow to purchase tickets today for $45 each.