“Let Yourself Blossom” was the theme for the 51st annual fashion show lunch and dinner presented by Presentation High School April 7 at the Santa Clara Convention Center, 5001 Great America Parkway.
The fashion show, attended by 950, is one of the all-girl parochial school’s biggest fundraisers for its Endowment for Financial Aid. The endowment enables qualified young women in grades nine through twelve to attend the college preparatory Catholic school in San Jose regardless of their economic status.
“You will not forget that you made a difference in the life of a Preservation girl,” said principal and alumna Mary Miller in welcoming remarks, pointing out that it costs $110 per day to sponsor one girl. “Be generous because we can.”
Founded in 1962, Presentation High School, 2281 Plummer Ave., is owned and operated by the Sisters of the Presentation in the Diocese of San Jose (www.presentationhs.org). With an enrollment of 750, it is the largest all-girls school in the South Bay. This year, about 25 percent of its students are receiving some level of financial aid, totaling nearly $2.1 million.
“I’ve always valued parochial school education because it bases education on the philanthropic spirit and serving your community,” said alumna Sue Greene, 2017 show chair. “I feel the need to give back to a place that gave me so much. Without this fashion show, we might not otherwise be able to affect the lives of so many girls.”
Kim Loquaci is another Presentation alumna whose life reflects the school’s motto: Not words but deeds. Loquaci, who retired in January after 38 years in the Santa Clara Unified School District as a special education teacher, sat at a table for 10 with other Presentation alumnae, moms, and the wife of the varsity coach for the award-winning Panthers soccer team.
“It’s an annual tradition, coming together as alums and parents supporting student scholarships. Alumnae support is key to the survival of these schools,” said Loquaci. “We live in a large urban community, but it gives a small-town feeling when we can support student scholarships.”
Originally held in the student center on the Presentation campus, the fashion show was and still is a way to showcase the clothing design and sewing skills of students. The designs of 15 students were featured in the 2017 show.
Local clothing and accessory stores also outfitted the 60 seniors (chosen by faculty based on their involvement in school life), parents, teachers and high school guys modeling everything from evening wear to beach outfits.
The award-winning Presentation dance team opened the show. Then in a sweet ending, seniors serving as hostesses changed to evening gowns and were escorted down the catwalk by their dads to the Stevie Wonder tune “Isn’t She Lovely,” which celebrated the birth of his daughter Aisha in 1975.
“Being in an all-girls school, I feel more welcome, like I can participate more in class,” said freshman Autessa Anoosheh from Los Gatos. “Everyone is really supportive. It’s a nice community to be part of.”
“I heard a lot of good things about Presentation before coming here from family and friends,” said sophomore Shelby Resz from San Jose. “I love it so much better than being at a coed school. I can do more and be more at Presentation.”
In opening remarks, Presentation alumna Britany Tufnell spoke of receiving financial aid her senior year when her mom got sick.
“The scholarship let me finish my last year,” said Tufnell, whose resume includes working at the Bill Wilson Center in Santa Clara counseling at risk kids. “Attending Presentation instilled core values and motivated me to continue with higher education and give back. Every student who graduates from here, carries that with her.”
“I built self confidence that I’ll carry with me all my life,” said Tufnell.