News on sports, clubs, and events at Oak Ridge High School.

Off the Oak

News on sports, clubs, and events at Oak Ridge High School.

Off the Oak

News on sports, clubs, and events at Oak Ridge High School.

Off the Oak

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Fashion Flow’s Lucky 7’s

Back at the Ridge-Fashion Flow Proves They Aren’t Just Lucky

This year’s Fashion Flow theme was “Lucky 7″s” and they did not disappoint. While many may feel that Fashion Flow is just another extra-curricular activity, it is so much more. Unless you have participated in this yearly event, you do not see all the hard work that comes with this live performance. For those of you new to Oak Ridge, Fashion Flow was a culminating event created by Dontrell Richardson when he taught Digital Information Technology. It started as a mentoring project to teach young men how to dress appropriately but it has grown into so much more. For students who do not play sports or participate in performing arts, this is an opportunity for them to be a part of something, to bond with other students and create memories. However, this is not easy task, auditions and practices take up just as much time as any sport or performing arts event-practicing routines takes hard work and Mr. Richardson has strict rules about missing practice just as if her were a coach. All that goes on behind the scenes before the event, picking the theme, creating sets (a big shout out to Mr. Godwin and his team), picking songs, creating VIP area and a logo to display on flyers a staff shirts and all the people that make it happen, lighting, sound, set, curtain, music, and the Emcee(s), this event is truly a production.

But how does it impact the students? Behind the curtain, students are getting ready and supporting one another-physically and emotionally- helping with zippers and ties and shouting words of encouragement like, “You look good girl!” These moments, whether consciously or subconsciously, will live in the memories of these students. They serve to boost self-esteem and learn how to be a part of a team. Mr. Richardson ensures that anyone can audition for the show: you do not have to be popular or smart or athletic- you just have to be dedicated. Kevin Ndayambje (10) explains his journey, “Fashion Flow can be challenging but if you want it that bad you’ll practice and figure it out to obtain your goal.” Practice and setting goals is something that can help students grow and shape who they are. One student, Jasmine Vanlenten (12), shares how Fashion Flow has impacted her, “At first I was nervous and shy but after awhile, they all made me smile and laugh and I felt like I could be myself and now I have the confidence to model in the future.” Maybe there will be a superstar in our future.

In an interview with Mr. Richardson, he shares how exactly Fashion Flow started and how it became the production it is today.

What was the reason or inspiration for fashion flow? (EOC, end of year project, etc.)

The idea of Fashion Flow came about from what was actually supposed to be a Fashion Forum for the Mentees in L.I.F.E. It was originally pitched as a “Lesson Session” to help them with understanding the appropriate dress for different situations and occasions. I wanted to also have some students showcase/model different looks so that the boys will have a visual understanding of what it should look like. That’s the reason it wasn’t called a Fashion Show because it wasn’t supposed to be a HUGE SHOW and it since it was for only males, I felt like flow added a since of masculinity to it. Well… I advertised it within my BUSINESS class for male students to volunteer as models for the forum and word got out.. all the way to the JA Building!! Someone sent four male students (3 Brothers and one of their close friends) who were really into fashion, to me to ask me if they could participate. I let them know what the event was and although I was under the impression they understood it was a small showcase, these fashion forward gentlemen saw it as an opportunity to really make a footprint on campus and turn the event into something bigger. Well, the convinced me to go bigger and reach out to more people. I had a conversation with the Principal at the time and although very hesitant to allow, she went with it under the agreement that I would stick to the “males only” since that was the original proposal. I said OK! In order to better communicate this stipulation (since we had many females asking to participate), we called if the GQ Fashion Flow since GQ is a men’s magazine.

Fashion Flows 1 (GQ) and 2 (The Nature of Attraction – which included female models) included showcases of Business, Casual, Formal, Swim/Resort, Athletic and Urbans attires.

Fashion Flows 3-7 showcased fashions based on the theme of the show itself.

Flow 1: GQ Fashion Flow

Flow 2: The Nature of Attraction (A Boy Meets Girl Story)

Flow 3: Lords of the Rings – Kings of Color (The Olympic Rings and a country from the continent they each represent)

Flow 4: Fourever Michael (A Tribute to Michael Jackson)

Flow 5: The Fifth Element (Inspired the film of the same name)

Flow 6: TWIZted (Inspired by The Wiz)

Flow 7: Lucky 777 (Vegas Night)

Do you prefer students that are dedicated or talented?

In a perfect world, the goal each year is to always audition and take the best talent because of course, that would create the best show and with ease. However, each year we get students who are not the best but really enjoy Fashion Flow, want to step out of their box and try something new. We attract students of all genders and with their own personality and individual styles. Not just the modelesque. They come with a willingness to learn and an openness to be critiqued and taught. It’s not always easy but they try their best and in continuing to learn and do their best, they become better until they eventually become the best of what we want for the show. That is what I really enjoy and appreciate the most about this event: the ability to take a student who is extremely shy, nervous with little to no confidence and bring them into a community of people and other students who are the complete opposite and through training, motivation, teambuilding and fun, they gain the confidence needed to perform on a stage in front of hundreds of people. It’s extremely satisfying to know that at the end of the show, my models leave with a true feeling of accomplishment that will last for a lifetime.

Other than a fundraiser, what do you feel the benefits of fashion flow are?

Other benefits are building community, culture, confidence, character, charisma.. The Cs were not intentional.

How has this impacted you as a person and teacher?

This event has actually helped me to build confidence within myself. That’s another story. It has also helped me to build patience and compassion. Each year, I say “this is my last year” but then I see the joy of the students and the involvement of friends, family and co-workers and that’s what keeps me going. 

How many people outside school help out with this event?

The main planning committee consists of 9 people which include:

Dontrell Richardson – Concept / Development / Choreography / Wardrobe / Styling

Arnetha Richardson –  Flow Support / House Calls

Veronica Lewis – Development / Flow Support / House Calls

Sonya Ollie – Development / Event Design / VIP / Flow Support

Dominic Clark – Production / Staging / Sales

Travoris Adams – Marketing & Promotions / Media / Tech

Dawn Nelson, Brittnaie Wade – Event Design / VIP / Flow Support

Ronald Godwin – Props & Stage Design

Jalen Lewis – Soundtrack Engineer & Disc Jockey

Additional assistance depends on what’s needed each year.

How many alumni have come back to assist with the show?

We currently have about 100 Alumni Models

So what started out small has grown and impacted many lives, alumni and volunteers return year after year to partake in this amazing production and maybe change a few lives-one scene at a time.


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