Inclusive DECA’s first-ever fashion show empowers students, builds community

Ellie O’Connor, Online Editor

The cafeteria was transformed into a runway on March 30 as students took to the catwalk in Inclusive DECA’s fashion show fundraiser.

To fundraise for various inclusive programs, Inclusive DECA plans a unique event every year, with a mystery dinner party and coffeehouse having been held previously. This year, the cafeteria was decorated by student volunteers to resemble a runway as 10 students modeled outfits put together by the Algonquin Fashion Club. Tickets for attendees cost eight dollars to support the Inclusive DECA program, a collaboration between Inclusive DECA and the Fashion Club.

“[The fashion show] gave the kids the opportunity to be who they are, and they came through,” Inclusive DECA adviser Zbysia Giegucz said. “I was afraid that when the time came for them to walk out, they’d be afraid to, but they embraced the whole thing and they were phenomenal.”

Post-graduate and Community Access Program (CAP) student Sofia Roumiantsev said she found unexpected strengths as a model in the show. Her favorite outfit she wore was a flowy, floral shirt and skirt ensemble.

“It felt freeing to know that I could be myself and walk down the runway,” Roumiantsev said. “I didn’t know I could model up until that day, and I knew I’ve always had it in me, but I never got to do it in public, and it felt amazing.”

According to Giegucz, students worked in roles that best suited their comfort levels, with some modeling, as others took on behind-the-scenes roles. 

“Everyone worked together,” Giegucz said. “We had kids who really didn’t want to be out there and modeling, which was fine; there were other jobs for them to do. They could set up, they were backstage, they made sure kids were going on time and they were in the right order. Then I had some kids that ran concession stands. So whatever the kids were comfortable with, that’s what they worked on.”

Giegucz credits the fashion show as a massive success for raising money, while also empowering students. Roumiantsev, who has an interest in pursuing business, enjoyed fundraising for Inclusive DECA.

“Supporting Inclusive DECA means a lot to me because I’ve always wanted to do something in business,” Roumiantsev said. “I’m taking a business class in college currently. I’m almost done with my semester, and [the fashion show] is a good way to give back. That means a lot to me, as it does for so many people.”

Not only did the fashion show support the club, but it also connected to the local community. Attendees were encouraged to bring in non-perishable items for the Northborough food pantry. Additionally, The Northborough Access Cable donated decorations for the creative set.

“The community has been good in supporting us, and we want to reach out to the community,” Giegucz said.

With the event tying together values of inclusivity and teamwork, Giegucz hopes to host more events like the fashion show in the future to continue supporting those with and without disabilities at Algonquin.

“Sometimes we limit what we think students can do,” Giegucz said. “But if we give them the opportunity, they show off what they can do, and we have to let them do it. We have to be open-minded about what our kids can do.”


This article originally incorrectly identified some of the organizations that collaborated in planning the event. The article was updated on May 31, 2023.