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Fifth-graders demonstrated their flare for fashion during an unusual classwide show Wednesday.

As part of a schoolwide effort to promote environmental awareness and recycling, fifth-graders at Dranesville Elementary School in Herndon collected garbage and turned it into fashion for Wednesday’s “TRASHion Show.”

Daniel Georgeiv, 11, helped design a dress accented by coffee filters.

“First, we designed the dress on paper and then we had to get the materials,” he said, adding that students worked on teams to design ensembles for the show.

Kevin Melecio, 11, helped design a dress made from a black trashbag and red duct tape.

“When we designed it, we needed to pick something that would make [the model] look good and not come off,” he said. “We first thought of using aluminum but it would have come off.”

Nathan Perkins, 10, said the show taught students “that you should always be environmentally friendly and that fashion shows don’t always have to be with clothes. They can be with trash.”

Students began to design their TRASHion digs two weeks ago and began putting together their couture garbage ensembles this week.

“A big push this year has been up-cycling and recycling and this is meant to teach them this,” said fifth-grade teacher Amanda Brown, explaining that up-cycling means to take something you would normally throw away and turn it into something new and usable.

All three classes of fifth-graders participated in the show and each student signed up for a task. Some worked the runway, while others came up with the fashions. Several students served as stage crew members and did other behind-the-scenes jobs, while other students were put in charge of serving as disc jockeys or masters of ceremony for the event. Students also performed a song about recycling and the environment.

“I learned a new way to do a fashion show,” Pallavi Kulkarni, 11, said. “We made the dresses out of different things practically all reusable trash… It kind of brought everyone together to work hard.”

Fifth-grade teacher Allan Dacanay said, “[Students] are getting an understanding of how things can be reused in a conservationist way, but also in a fun way. They’re learning that you don’t have to just throw something away.” Dacanay added that he was surprised and impressed by the level of creativity displayed in students’ designs.

Wednesday’s TRASHion show was a culmination of a yearlong effort to promote environmental learning, said teacher Whitney Branisteanu.

“All year, we’ve been kind of working in as many environmental lessons as we can,” she said, adding that the campaign kicked off at the beginning of the year with a student organized walk-a-thon.

“All of that led us to our TRASHion show… The hardest thing was to get [teachers and families] to donate trash rather than throw it away…Our [classroom] stank for awhile there.”

A student panel and a teacher panel judged students’ creations. They awarded trophies—made of gold-painted plastic bottles—to the most colorful, best plastic outfit, wackiest outfit, easiest to wear, best put together and most on topic designs.

“It had to be secure. They had to wear clothes under it,” teacher Aimee Conrad said of the criteria. “We didn’t want to have a Janet Jackson moment… Everyone got a trophy.”

Rose Bailey, 11, said, “I think it was a big success and it was fun.”

hhobbs@fairfaxtimes.com