High schools in four cities that suffered extensive damage from Hurricane Sandy, including Atlantic City High School and Pinelands Regional High School in Little Egg Harbor Township, are competing to win a prom package from the Web-based company Rent the Runway.

Atlantic City senior class president Ayanna Cox has been giving media interviews in an effort to get out the online vote for her school, which was in fourth place Wednesday evening. All voting is done online, and anyone can vote once a day through Friday.

Cox said student Amira Kinlaw heard about the contest and suggested the school enter. Cox and classmate Colleen Callahan coordinated a video with district employee Derek Cason that shows the storm and students talking about the impact on their lives and what they lost. Some are still not in their homes.

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“But tragedy brought us together,” Cox said in the video. “We are still a Viking family.”

Cox said the storm damage has affected students’ ability to attend the prom this year.

“Some students are debating whether to go because of the cost,” she said.

Tazim Kabir, the student representative to the Atlantic City Board of Education, promoted the contest at the board meeting Monday night. Superintendent Donna Haye encouraged the board members to vote daily.

Pinelands Regional High School Principal Thomas Normile said the contest has been fun for the students who saw firsthand the impact of the storm. The junior high school was used as a shelter during the storm, and Tuckerton and Mystic Islands had heavy damage.

“The kids are excited,” he said. “They’re getting a lot of people to vote.”

As of Wednesday evening, Pinelands was in second place behind Toms River North.

In the essay submitted for the contest, Pinelands was cited for efforts during and after the storm to collect donations and food for those affected.

East Rockaway High School in Nassau County, N.Y., is the fourth high school in the finals. The four were chosen from 30 entrants by Rent the Runway CEO Jennifer Hyman, president Jennifer Fleiss, fashion director Lucy Sykes Rellie, Teen Vogue editor Amy Astley and My Fair Wedding’s host David Tutera, according to information provided by the company.

Affected students at the winning school will get a prom dress or tuxedo to use from Rent the Runway or Men’s Wearhouse, as well as a VIP styling party with hair and makeup services from Lancome and Drybar. Tutera will provide decor and host the prom, and there will be a surprise celebrity performance.

Normile said no matter which school wins, the contest is a nice recognition of the impact the storm had on students and how their schools and classmates responded.

“It’s been exciting just to be nominated,” he said.

Contact Diane D'Amico:


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