MIAMI (CBSMiami) – Several Miami-Dade high school students, along with a school valedictorian who couldn’t afford to go to prom, received help from the county’s public school district on Wednesday.

Deserving students in economically fragile situations were selected by their school to visit the “Prom Boutique,” which is packed with brand new dresses, suits, shoes, and makeup.

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“Yeah, I’m excited to shop. It really got to my feelings, it was really awesome!” said Anthony Caballero, a student at Booker T. Washington High School.

Caballero, like several of the students selected, is on the autism spectrum. He was very excited and very appreciative after finding a blue shirt for his suit and spun himself around in front of a mirror before breaking out into a happy dance.

His excitement is something fellow Booker T. Washington High student Ashley Ortiz understands.

“I didn’t know I was going to go to prom, so this is all very surprising, all in one day,” she said.

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Ortiz is the valedictorian of her class. She said she found out about the school district’s program to assist students in need with prom expenses after telling her teacher she couldn’t afford to go to the prom. The district will also be helping Ortiz, and other students in need, with senior events such as Grad Bash.

“I would say it’s very helpful because my family is struggling a little bit and being able to get this opportunity just really makes me happy,” said Ortiz.

The school district said they’ve seen an increase in students seeking need-based programs following the pandemic.

“We want our students to know that everybody struggles, it’s only a moment in time and people who don’t even know them, and a school district that cares deeply about them, is going to make sure that they have everything they need,” said Diana Venturini, Exec Dir. Of Fund & Resource Development for Miami-Dade County Public Schools.

In addition to the Prom Boutique, the district also has what they call “The Shop,” which is open five days a week by appointment. The Shop offers free non-perishable food, brand new clothes, electric cooking appliances, school supplies, and more.

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To contact The Shop, to volunteer, or make an appointment, send an email to TheShop@dadeschools.net. You can also reach them at (305) 579-0300.

Deborah Souverain