AVON — Michelle Lesniak Franklin wasn’t the most popular girl in high school, but she was creative. Unfortunately, Lesniak Franklin said there weren’t a lot of opportunities for a “geeky, drama kid” to excel.
That’s why Lesniak Franklin said it’s important to recognize those students who may not fit into the conventional mold. She said Duck Tape’s Stuck at Prom contest is one way to help those artistic students.
“It’s not a scholarship based on SATs or spelling skills or how well you can write or how great you are at math. It’s about creativity, and that’s really important, because I didn’t excel in those other things,” she said.
Stuck at Prom offers scholarships to students who create unique prom outfits made of Duck Brand duct tape, which is marketed by ShurTech Brands in Avon.
Lesniak Franklin, the winner of the 11th season of “Project Runway” and judge of this year’s Stuck at Prom contest, was on hand Thursday at ShurTech to make an announcement about changes to the contest.
This year, Duck Tape is raising the prize amount to offer more than $50,000 in scholarships to high school students in the U.S. and Canada. Students will now compete for the grand prize of $10,000, rather than the $5,000 that was offered previously.
The winners of the Stuck at Prom contest are chosen based on workmanship, originality and use of colors, accessories and Duck Tape. The competition kicked off 14 years ago, and since then, the colors and designs of Duck Tape have expanded.
Last year, 295 students entered the Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest, spending an average of 100 hours on each creation.
Laura Pierce, spokeswoman for ShurTech, said duct tape was invented during World War II and marketed as Duck Tape in the 1980s, but in the past decade, there has been an emergence of the tape being used in fashion.
“This came about because people were actually doing this without our prompting,” she said. “Now, instead of doing this for fun, you can actually get scholarship money for this.”
Lesniak Franklin judged last year’s contest in which Caden Kluge and Ashton Woolen, of Woodstock, Ga., each received a $5,000 scholarship and $5,000 for their school.
Lesniak Franklin knows a little bit about working with Duck Tape — she used it during a challenge to create a dress out of the material during the “Project Runway” competition. As well as winning the competition, Lesniak Franklin also took the honor of having the best design with her short, spunky red-and-black prom dress, made entirely of Duck Tape.
“Project Runway,” a reality television show on Lifetime, pits fashion designers against one another to create the best design each week during a series of challenges to create sometimes unconventional clothing.
Lesniak Franklin said since the television show aired, she’s had numerous opportunities, including working with ShurTech to offer prom fashion tips to high school students. Those tips will be online.
Lesniak Franklin is working on a clothing line with a fashion show in her hometown of Portland, Ore., later this year.
On Thursday, David Rodgers, senior digital marketing manager for ShurTech Brands, also announced a partnership with Pandora personalized Internet radio. Rodgers said Stuck at Prom will have its own stations on Pandora, and Facebook fans will be able to suggest songs for the stations.
Rodgers said the music, and fashion tips will all coincide with Stuck at Prom to provide a unique prom experience.
Lesniak Franklin said creating Duck Tape fashion is unusual, but it’s not difficult.
“Never using the material before was really interesting, but it was freeing at the same time, because we had a plethora of it … You don’t have to be a skilled seamstress to work with it,” she said.
Stuck at Prom Scholarship Contest
- The Stuck at Prom entry period starts March 10 and ends May 23. A panel of judges will choose the top 10 finalist couples. Those couples will then be narrowed down to a grand prize, second- and third-place winners during a public online voting period, which will be open June 10 to July 8. Winners will be announced around July 16.
- Grand-prize winners will each receive a $10,000 scholarship, and $5,000 will be available to the school that hosted the prom they attended. Second-place award is $5,000 for each of the students and $3,000 for the host school, and third place is $3,000 per student and $2,000 to the host school.
- The remaining seven couples in the top 10 will each receive a $500 scholarship, as well as $500 for the school that hosted the prom.
- The “Singles Category” winner will receive $500, and winners in the six “Honorable Mention” categories will receive a Duck Tape prize pack.
- For more information on the contest, visit www.StuckAtProm.com.