160 student models walk the runway in Benefit Fashion show 

March 25, 2019 — by Andrew Lee

    Junior Benefit commissioner Jeffrey Xu stepped into the Large Gym on March 2, a Saturday morning, each of his footsteps ricocheting across the high-ceiling room. Donning a fresh black tuxedo and holding a heavy cardboard box in his hands, Xu’s eyes panned across the floor, imagining the black curtains and elevated runway sprawled against the back wall and the daunting number of hours required to set it up for the big event later that evening.
    Xu, along with volunteers, Leadership students, and the other five members of the Benefit commision — seniors Ines Picard, Karen Chow, Isabelle Rieken, Janelle Jin, Michelle Vu —  worked tirelessly all morning and afternoon prepping the Small Gym as a model waiting room, the gym lobby as a silent auction display and the Large Gym into a gleaming stage.
Later that night, 160 students took to the runway in pairs and trios to pose in outfits ranging from casual clothes to extravagant costumes, put together by seniors Khiara Berkowitz-Sklar, Angela Poo, Grace Stuart, Rachael Bakke, and Tiffany Pi. 
    Students ran through 13 different themes with an intermission in the middle. The dance team performed after the intermission.
    With the help of the Benefit adviser, Spanish teacher Stephany Marks, and Leadership teacher Matt Torrens, the Benefit commissioners planned and coordinated the show to raise money for the Color a Classroom with Love charity, which provides essential school materials to school districts in Paradise, California. Most of the town, including the schools, burned down during the Camp Fire in October. 
 Benefit head commissioner Picard especially appreciated the contributions of Marks, saying, “This year, we had a new adviser. She jumped on board to help us out with this enormous event and did such an amazing job, and the commission is very grateful for her.” 
On the day of the show, the commission also had help from many volunteers, including parent Helen Jarrett and seniors  Isaiah Vivero, Alec Lockhart and Vittorio Morini Bianzino. The three boys helped with general organization and with music as sound technicians.
“The day of the show definitely gets hectic, but [the volunteers] fulfilled their responsibilities and [helped] relieve so much stress,” Picard said. “The show couldn’t have happened without them.”
    Benefit commission said they had originally decided to donate their profits to Alzheimer’s Association, but after a suggestion from Torrens to help schools destroyed in the massive fire, they decided to donate to Color a Classroom with Love. 
    Planning for the show began almost six months before the actual show in around September of last year. The Benefit commision worked until December gathering outfit donations, organizing models and theme heads and ordering the set up for the stage. 
    The silent auction also took place at the show, with 25 possible prizes including a lunch with the principal at the Big Basin Burger Bar and free kickboxing sessions at Studio Kicks. Combined with total ticket sales and money collected from the silent auction and donations, The Benefit commision raised around $10,000 for the charity.
    A major transformation has taken place within the commision as well. The Benefit commision welcomed its first ever male commissioner, Xu, to the team since its inception in 1987.
    “It was time to add diversity to our commission, and I’m excited to see how next year plays out with the 2020 Fashion Show,” Picard said.
    According to junior model Daniel Ning, the fashion show was a fun experience to be a part of for the first time, and is something he would consider participating in again next year.
    “I think the benefit show went as smoothly as possible thanks to the hard work of the commissioners,” Ning said. “It was fun and filled with great outfits supplied by the donors.”
    Despite the show’s success, however, there were still issues with the show that the commision struggled to deal with during the process of planning for the show. 
One major problem was stores dropping out of the show at the last minute unexplained, which caused scheduling conflicts and an overwhelming amount of models who had to find substitute outfits. But since the commision does not have the authority to place contracts, there was nothing the Benefit commision could do to prevent that, Picard said.
Additionally, the Benefit commission was surprised to see fewer parents attending at the event, especially compared to the attendance of previous years. This could possibly be attributed to the parents not being well informed, as the students involved were responsible with getting family members to attend the show.
“I’d say that the parent attendance to the show was definitely not what we wanted it to be, but for next year, we’re hoping to cut the students as a middle man [to inform parents] and establish direct contact with the parents of students to get more people to come,” Picard said.
With all the planning and work that had gone into the show by all the commissioners, volunteers, advisers, theme heads, store managers and student models, the show turned out to be a success, garnering thousands for schools that now lack necessary materials for their students. Though there were some issues that could have gone better, the Benefit commission is proud to have hosted such a large show, and are excited to see what’s in store for coming years.
“The commission is only six people, so it is a lot to take on, but I’m happy to say that the commission did such a great job,” Picard said. “The show ran extremely smoothly, and I’m sure Mr. Torrens and all of the staff volunteers appreciated that. It was definitely a success.”

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