Like any 18-year-old, Surrey high school student Courtney Barich was really looking forward to her graduation dance.
But she did not don a traditional ball gown for her special night. Instead, Barich wore a dress made out of burlap.
It all started last December when the Holy Cross Grade 12 student went shopping for a grad dress with her mother.
“I was about to buy a dress, and I thought I had it picked it out,” says Barich.
But the store was about to close and she was told to come back the next day.
Driving back home with her mom, Courtney started to have second thoughts about the $700 dress.
“I felt kind of selfish, and then my mom said you would look good in anything, even a potato sack,” she says.
Little did Courtney’s mom know her daughter would take the idea literally.
Courtney says most of her friends were incredulous at first, but her family was on board right away.
“My dad was kind of confused. But he is a guy, he does not understand. He is supportive now, he is very proud of me,” she says.
She bought burlap fabric for mere $3 from a Cloverdale store and enlisted the help of a student designer from the Vancouver Art Institute to make the dress, which she debuted at her grad dinner party this Friday.
Courtney’s mother Charlotte-Anne Barich says her daughter received a lot of positive feedback.
“I’m so happy for her, it was a hard thing to do and a lot to give up. I think the grad day was stressful for her as she had many questions coming at her from lots of people, however she handled it well and said if she had to do it all over again she would,” she says.
Earlier this spring, Courtney went to the Philippines, where she and a group of classmates helped build an orphanage.
Barich planned to raise $10,000 for the orphanage through her burlap dress project, but is $2,500 shy of her goal.
Her mother says she is going back to the orphanage in September, and plans to fundraise until she leaves.
To help Courtney’s cause, go to her website http://www.courtneysburlapgrad.ca.