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Toyota donates $3,750 towards professional attire for students at TCALC

TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) – 30 students from the Topeka Center for Advanced Learning and Careers got some spiffy professional clothing for free thanks to a generous donation for Lewis Toyota.

Lewis Toyota decided to help the College Prep Academy students by donating $3,750 for the 7th and 8th grade students to have professional attire. This is the first year for these students and the students got to go to JC Penney’s, get fitted, and have their uniforms individualized, all without having to pay a dime.

So, students who could not afford such an attire did not have to worry about the cost. 13 NEWS asked one of the students what they believe that means for the students who really appreciate the help.

“Well, it means that people who can afford less, can now have uniforms without having to pay however much they would have had to pay, which is probably a lot,” said Landon Snyder, a first-year student and 8th grader at TCALC. “It means that people with less opportunity now can fit in better.”

The new uniform even improved the confidence in two students now that they are dressed for success.

“I feel better, a lot better. It really boosts my confidence and makes me feel kind of big and, I guess, kind of important, “Snyder said.

“It kind of just shows a form of unity and we all get to be like one with each other, you know,” said Jasic Helvey, a first-year 8th grader at TCALC. “I feel fancy, I am not even going to lie.”

Plus, each student learns how to present or conduct a professional interview while looking sharp, according to Meshach McKnight, a project coordinator and math teacher for TCALC.

“We do professional dress day so that our students could prepare and present themselves. We focus on the whole child, there is the academic portion, but we also want to get them ready for what it is to do a presentation or go for an interview, so all of our students dress up.”

TCALC hosts a professional dress day at school every now and then, sometimes if students have to present or connect with others, but the students do not have to dress professional every day because the students spend time at TCALC but then go back to their “home schools” to complete class work there.

“So, as of now we do not have it where they dress up every day, because they come here for their classes, but then they go back to their home schools so that they could get that experience at their home schools as well,” McKnight said. “So, we have decided on a day where it could be professional dress day and some weeks, we might do more than one day. So, it depends like today we will wear our uniforms and we will wear it tomorrow as well, because we are presenting and reaching out to people and we always want to practice those skills with our students.”

McKnight described the JC Penney’s field trip as an experience the brings a sense of community.

“They were able to go to JC Penney’s and individually pick out their own top, and their bottom, and their tie, and then got them fitted, if it did not fit then they go back and test it out again, but it created like an experience, so the students felt like it was being individualized and there is also a sense of community and support,” McKnight said. “The students were also able to go to JC Penney’s before they were even opened. They [JC Penney] reached out and they said that ‘you know what let’s have them come in and create this space for students’ and now it has built this culture of belonging, and support, and community.”

Each student also received a special TPS jacket from the school for their professional school uniform.

Link to the original story here.