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EngenuitySC and Richland One Expand “Dress to Impress” Program to Four High Schools

This March and April, EngenuitySC and Richland County School District One are excited to announce the expansion of the annual “Dress to Impress” student business etiquette showcase from one to four high schools, quadrupling the impact of the program. Formerly named “Dress for Success” and launched at Lower Richland High School in 2014, the showcase is expanding to include C.A. Johnson High School, Eau Claire High School and Columbia High School in its fifth year.

Each year, a selected group of students receive “soft skills” training, new business outfits (to keep) from a shopping trip at JCPenney, professional grooming lessons, and an etiquette dinner where they learn about formal table manners and more. The experience culminates in a fun, peer-to-peer showcase for a packed house in the school’s auditorium, where students take the stage to strut their business attire and recap everything that they have learned throughout the program.

The Dress to Impress Showcase is an opportunity for young students to learn how to dress and act in a professional manner as they prepare to enter college and, eventually, South Carolina’s highly skilled workforce. This year’s participants focus their studies on engineering, medicine, entrepreneurism, and computer science – and all need to learn how to properly navigate the business world.

The high-energy event is made possible through Richland County School District One’s STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Math) programming, in partnership with EngenuitySC.

“Our team has been so inspired by four years of this program at Lower Richland High School, and we are thrilled to bring it to life with new schools and students this year,” says Meghan Hickman, executive director of EngenuitySC, a regional nonprofit that specializes in managing collaborations between business, government, education and community leaders. “This program is all about exposure and opportunity, mentor/mentee relationships and building confidence. There’s no better feeling in the world than seeing those students walk on stage beaming with pride as their classmates cheer them on and celebrate their transformation.”

“Since 2014, we’ve seen how this program has transformed students’ lives at Lower Richland High School,” notes Richland One Superintendent Craig Witherspoon. “It has been such a solid success, and we are excited to expand ‘Dress to Impress’ to three additional schools in our district.”

During each of the four events in the 2018 showcase series, emcee Leland Pinder, WIS television news anchor, will discuss proper business etiquette while leading the audience through each student’s transformation. DJ Prince Ice from The Big DM will be live on stage to provide each event’s soundtrack.

Dates for Richland One’s “Dress to Impress” showcases in March and April are as follows:

March 13, 2018, 2pm-3:15pm: Business Etiquette Showcase at C.A. Johnson High School

March 22, 2018, 2pm-3:15pm: Business Etiquette Showcase at Lower Richland High School

April 12, 2018, 2pm-3:15pm: Business Etiquette Showcase at Columbia High School

April 19, 2018, 2pm-3:15pm: Business Etiquette Showcase at Eau Claire High School

The first shopping day and etiquette dinner is scheduled for participating students from C.A. Johnson High School on March 7, followed by Eau Claire High School on March 8, Lower Richland High School on March 15 and Columbia High School on March 20.

New business attire, dining etiquette training and more: Participating students are chosen by school leadership, and each student is paired with a mentor. The mentors, committed to teaching the students about professionalism, are community volunteers from various organizations – lawyers, business owners, IT professionals, and more.

In the weeks before the big showcase, students and mentors meet at JCPenney to learn about business-appropriate attire and pick out their outfits and accessories for the showcase event. Each student is allotted a budget of $150 to spend on their wardrobe for the fashion show.

Later that night, Dress to Impress students enjoy a complimentary dinner with their mentors at Solstice Kitchen led by Georgia Doran, Director of Office of Career Management at the University of South Carolina’s Moore School of Business. Ms. Doran discusses etiquette and soft skills such as communication and language; personal habits; leadership; and other interpersonal skills.

The Dress to Impress student showcase at each school provides the selected students a chance to share what they learned from the initiative with their classmates.

EngenuitySC is proud to partner with seven schools in Richland County School District One, including Lower Richland High, Eau Claire High, Columbia High, and C.A. Johnson High Schools; Hopkins Middle and Southeast Middle Schools; and Gadsden Elementary School. Since the partnership commenced in June 2013, EngenuitySC has focused on exposing students, teachers and parents to the opportunities associated with STEAM careers. Thanks to collaboration with industry, higher education and community partners, EngenuitySC has helped bring hands-on STEAM experiences, soft skills development and entrepreneurial activities into the halls of all seven schools.

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