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Dressing Down

A senior at Marquette University High School, a 979-student college-prep school for boys in Milwaukee, was well on his way last week to meeting an unusual fund- raising goal.

While attending the school's spring dance last year, Aaron Theisen concluded that he had spent lots of money that could have gone to a more worthy cause.

Mr. Theisen's chief beef: the tuxedo. A high school boy may spend almost $100 renting the favored attire for the prom. That's quite a sum for a single evening, especially when many of the guys soon start loosening their bow ties and within five minutes discard the dinner jackets, noted Principal Gregory Meuler.

"A tuxedo doesn't make prom. There are so many other things that make it special," Mr. Theisen, 18, said in a statement prepared to cope with the media attention his idea has received. "It just seems like an unnecessary expense."

To prove his point, the student passed out fliers encouraging his classmates to donate to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation the money they would have spent on tuxes. His goal was to get 100 boys to wear regular coats and ties to the dance, scheduled for May 4.

Mr. Theisen chose that charity because one of his teachers has a daughter with cystic fibrosis.

His petition met with mixed reactions. While he persuaded almost 50 students to pledge their tuxedo money to charity, many others were not so eager to dress down.

But despite some students' initial hesitation, Mr. Meuler said he expected Mr. Theisen to reach his goal. Some students suggested donating to charity instead of spending so much on flowers or decorations.

"What's very interesting about this whole thing is the way in which it has captured the imagination of the media," Mr. Meuler said. "There are a great number of students who do things like this for the community and give of themselves every day."

—Marianne Hurst

Vol. 20, Issue 34, Page 3

Published in Print: May 9, 2001, as Take Note

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