Fashion is the new black at Anne Arundel high schools

Several county high school have added fashion design to the elective art curriculum. From left are samples from South River students Keeley Smith, Seungseo Oh and Elena Valdez.

Reading, writing, arithmetic and ... fashion?

Several high schools in Anne Arundel County have added fashion design to the elective art curriculum.


While art departments in the county were skeptical, the idea is catching on, said Amanda Hagerman, who teaches art and fashion drawing classes at Southern High School.

"For the art teachers, fashion has a stigma attached to it because one, they may not have a background in fashion and two, it's not considered a fine art," Hagerman said.


The fashion curriculum was introduced at Meade High School in the fall of 2010, and has expanded to Southern, Broadneck, Old Mill, South River and Southern high schools.

At South River, where the fashion program is in its first year, the classes filled immediately. Peggy Galloway, who teaches the classes, also started an after-school fashion club, which was popular until transportation issues kept students from participating.

As a part of the club, students Alpa Patel and Brooke Sale instructed their peers in modeling and fashion design, respectively.

Taking part in Galloway's class has affirmed Sale's career goals.

"The fashion industry is where I belong and where I want to be," Sale said. "I think (this class) will be able to help me with a career ... and to be a little ahead of everyone else."

For Southern High School's fashion club president, Elena Valdez, getting involved in fashion is about the careers of her classmates as well as her own.

"Altogether the fashion world has become a huge industry," said Valdez. "A lot of kids need to realize that there are other positions in life than to be a doctor or a teacher."

One of the Southern fashion club's goals is to help the community, beginning with a T-shirt altering activity. Students will turn plain T-shirts into more fashionable garments, then donate the clothes to charities.


The club has watched videos about the fashion business and held design contests to expose students to the workings of the industry. Though neither the class nor the club at Southern has delved into sewing their designs, Hagerman said the drawing is a more practical skill at high school age.

"A lot of fashion institutes and design schools do not require sewing skills. They are truly looking for the drawing skills," she said. "When (the students) get there they have to really develop the idea before the idea can become something."

By incorporating personal style and drawing, the fashion curricula at Southern and South River has drawn a variety of students to the art department. Galloway and Hagerman said some students entered their class with no drawing experience, but a strong interest in fashion.

With this trend, they hope to expand the art programs.

"Creativity, design, innovation - those things play such an important role in everything in society," said Hagerman. "Creative problem-solving is huge ... and art forces them to think outside the box."