What's Happening


Pauline Savage, Upper School Arts Department Chair
On May 19, 2023, the collaboration between Jemicy’s student fashion designers, videographers, and the Penn-Mar staff and clients will culminate in a very special fashion show. Arts Chair Pauline Savage shares, "Our gifted young creatives shine brightest when they engage real-world design opportunities. As a school that celebrates inclusion and neurodiversity, the partnership with Penn-Mar, an organization that focuses on supporting people with intellectual and developmental disabilities, is the perfect project for our students. More importantly, it is a wonderful way to provide an enriching experience for the wonderful people at Penn-Mar."  
Stay tuned for information on a Livestream the morning of the event. 
Pauline Savage, Upper School Arts Chair, describes the project in the article below, written for Penn-Mar’s news blog. We could not be more proud of our Jemicy students and faculty and we know you will enjoy learning more about this meaningful collaboration. "As a  fashion design teacher at Jemicy, I teach students that are brilliant visual-spatial thinkers, ingenious when it comes to problem-solving. They have a talent for making unusual connections that allows them to see opportunities that many people cannot.

Just prior to the pandemic, Tina Chan Sweenie, Penn-Mar‘s Associate Director of Development, Volunteer, and Donor Relations — whose daughter Leila is one of our students — told me that Penn-Mar was planning to organize a fashion show for the people it supports. Would our students be interested in designing clothes for them? My immediate response was “we can totally do this!” 

Luckily, we have two very large fashion design classes with 18 students. Their goal is to have all of their original fashions ready for a May 19 live-streamed event staged at Penn-Mar’s Central location.
In the midst of all this planning, I shared our assignment with Jemicy’s videography teacher when she realized that this would be a perfect storyline for her students’ documentary project. What could be better than documenting their peers meeting with their clients about their fashion preferences, following them through the creative process and final fittings, and watching them on the sidelines cheering on their models during the show? This is yet another example of what is so exciting and special about Jemicy that we as teachers have the flexibility to expose our kids to real work.

As I write this, our students have completed their measurements and created storyboards with a picture of each Penn-Mar model that includes their goals, style, and clothing preferences along with colorful images of fashion examples and material swatches to inspire their work. 

Twenty original designs are now in work that addresses each person’s sensory issues. Where appropriate, clothing is designed to slip overhead easily, utilizes stretchy materials with minimal seams, and relies on large zippers, magnets, or ties to secure.

During the measurement and subsequent design sessions, we considered each client's needs: Cindy from Penn-Mar expressed a need to feel good and comfortable in a dress that is easy to put on. She prefers rainbow colors, a drawstring waist, and pockets. Daryl was very specific about wanting a “choo-choo train bucket hat;” Laura asked for a pink purse, and Gene was looking for a dragon shirt and belt. Nick preferred a slim-fit gold shirt with sequins, swirls, and fancy buttons paired with black pants and gold-lined cuffs with additional sequins. Derek asked for dark-colored jogging pants that would be loose enough to accommodate his leg braces and made with a “Velcro-friendly fabric.” Julia noted that she was allergic to cashmere but would be comfortable in a royal blue off-the-shoulder wool dress with straps. These are just a few examples of the unique collaboration between our designers and Penn-Mar’s models that are allowing our students to work with purpose. I can assure you that they have a lot of joy in their hearts while they are completing their assignment, not something you usually hear about with high school-age teenagers!

We are so grateful to Tina Chan Sweenie for approaching us with this idea and to her daughter Leila who is a leader in this inclusive Fashion Show initiative."
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