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Chaparral fashion students cut their way to top of Denver Paper Fashion Show

DENVER – A group of Chaparral High School fashion students brought fire and ice to the runway at this year’s Denver Paper Fashion Show. The school claimed the top award for students during their inaugural appearance at the competition.

Denver’s event is the largest paper fashion show in the country and features work by professionals and students alike. This year, 42 dresses, including three designed and created by the Chaparral Fashion Club, were on display on the runway.

The students say they were in awe of the innovation and creativity.

“It was intimidating,” said Chaparral Sophomore Gianna Tarka. “Literally, just before we got the award we said, ‘we are not going to win at all.’”

The Chaparral students collaborated together on all three dresses, two of which fit into a fire and ice theme.

“For the fire dress, we had to cut them out and match them up the way that we wanted it. We had to make sure that it flowed like a real flame would,” explained Chaparral Freshman Brittini Zwirn.

The teens, who also attend the school’s fashion career and technical education courses, say paper is far less forgiving than fabric.

“If you’re sewing and there are already those holes punched in, there is a chance of it ripping. Then you have to restart that piece,” Zwirn said.

“The most difficult part was going from the mannequins to live models,” Tarka added. “The live models have longer torsos than the mannequins.”

Chaparral Family and Consumer Sciences teacher Arielle Bergmann suggested the idea to her fashion students at the beginning of the year, after seeing student designs at the show last year. The students took it from there.

“It was them all the way,” Bergmann said. “They had the ideas and then they worked on it—on their own.”

It was a significant commitment for the students, with meetings twice a week from the beginning of the semester and even longer hours in the final days.

“We had to have everything done last Tuesday, so they were here until about 7 p.m. the night before,” Bergmann said. “They wanted to make sure that everything was how they wanted it before we left.”

“There were definitely some times when I wasn’t sure it was going to all get finished, but everything came together,” Bergmann added. “I’m really proud of all the hard work that they put into the show and the commitment.”

The payoff came when the students and their teachers were able to watch their fashions parade down the runway.

“In most fashion shows, designers stay in the back to make sure that the hair is where it is supposed to be and that each model is ready to go. They do not get to watch the show,” explained Bergmann. “What was awesome about this experience was that students go to see all of their hard work coming down the runway. That feeling you get, there is nothing that compares with it.”

“Seeing it up there was really amazing,” Zwirn added. ”I was so happy and so proud to see how well it actually turned out.”

The judges apparently liked what they saw, awarding the team with this year’s Star Student award for their Ice Dress.

“We got to go up and stand with our dress and walk off the stage with it,” Zwirn said.

The show may be the start of a successful career for Zwirn, who has wanted to be a fashion designer since the age of seven, and students like her.

“This is really good experience for me,” Zwirn said. “It really lets me see what I’m going into.”

Bergmann believes the competition will be beneficial for all the students, since it is a great way for them to practice their 4Cs – Critical Thinking, Creativity, Communication and Collaboration—21st Century Skills they’ll need in whatever industry they pursue.

“I hope that it is something where they can express their creativity. Obviously, if they would like a career in fashion, I want to do everything I can to help them with that,” Bergmann said.

The dresses will be on display in Chaparral’s hallway, until the school’s fashion show on May 13. The show, which is open to the public will also feature the work of students from the school’s Fashion 1 and Fashion 2 classes.

Below is a list of all who were involved in the award-winning effort:

Gianna Tarka
Brittini Zwirn
Lindsey Whittington
Paris Frye
Megann Cogger
Kassidy Yelp

Jessica Nazarenus
Alayna Best
Laura Ton
Mandy Lambert

Arielle Bergmann

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April 14, 2015 | By rmbarber | Category: District, High School Education

District News

The Douglas County School District Board of Education welcomes Dr. Thomas S. Tucker into the role of Superintendent of Douglas County School District. Dr. Tucker officially leads the 68,000 student district as of July 1, 2018.


Nearly 1,500 Colorado students applied for the prestigious Boettcher Foundation Scholarship this year, with 42 being named recipients. Of those, the Douglas County School District (DCSD) is proudly home to four recipients.


When it comes to mental health services, communities traditionally focus on supporting kids as needs arise. This work is crucial for the safety of our students. Equally important, though, is prevention-based programming that can help, early on, prevent the social-emotional challenges our kids may be experiencing from escalating.