School Fashion
Battle 2007

1. A Night of Glitter and Glamour, January 25, 2007

2. Glamour Takes the Stage, January 25, 2007

3. Showcasing Teen Style and Creativity, January 19, 2006

4. Reaching out to teens through performing arts July 7, 2004

5. District Chronicles - January, 10 2002

A Night of Glitter and Glamour


At left, Olubukola Oriowo of Bowie High School takes part in the fourth annual Teens Court School Fashion Battle at DAR Constitution Hall on Saturday. Twelve Maryland and D.C. high school teams performed runway shows fusing fashion and theater. Above, Northwestern High’s Karen Claxton, left, and Asha Gamble.






Above, Toccara Jones, left, one of the event’s hosts and a former contestant on “America’s Next Top Model,” helps Duke Ellington School of the Arts junior Ayana Reed dress. At right, Duke Ellington sophomore Kailasa Aqeel.



Glamour Takes the Stage


Siara Harmon of Bowie High School, above, and, at right from left, Duke Ellington School of the Arts’ De’Sean Dooley, Duke Ellington sophomore Kailasa Aqeel and DuVal High’s Arielle Dukes take part in the fourth annual Teens Court School Fashion Battle at DAR Constitution Hall on Saturday. Twelve high school teams from Maryland and the District performed eight-minute
runway shows fusing fashion and theater. Students designed and created their clothing and
developed scene ideas, backdrops and stage props.


Suitland High School’s Brandi Rhinehart crawls out of a cage during her school’s performance. Prince George’s County schools took the three top spots: Suitland finished second, behind Largo and ahead of Crossland.

Largo High School’s Mikale Ferguson had her makeup applied by classmate Brittany Reid. Largo’s winning team received $1,000 to support the school’s performing arts program and an expenses-paid trip to New York.



Showcasing Teen Style and Creativity

The audience watches a model from Archbishop Carroll High School in the District at Sunday's fashion show.

By Yawandale Birchett-Thompson
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High School Teams In Fashion Battle

One of the models from Charles H. Flowers High School in Springdale.  The school's team took third place in the Teens Count School Fashion Battle.The faux-forest painted walls and sparkling crystal chandeliers of the grand ballroom at Camelot of Upper Marlboro provided the perfect setting for the Teens Count School Fashion Battle 2006. And this year's participants did not disappoint.

Heads turned as teams from Eleanor Roosevelt, Charles H. Flowers, Laurel, Parkdale, Suitland, Friendly, Largo, Frederick Douglass and DuVal high schools in Prince George's and Archbishop Carroll High School in the District, strutted their stuff onstate Sunday in fashions they had chosen or had designed and made.

The event drew a crowd of about 1,700 -- according to organizers -- to the conference and banquet center on the grounds of Evangel Cathedral

The '80s punk look was the dominant style for the evening. Girls adorned in garb that looked as if it had been plucked from Madonna's pre-"Material Girl" closet sported vibrant red shoes, black tights and skirts, and fingerless gloves. The guys stepped out in sleeveless T-shirts, square-shouldered jackets and loose jeans.

Students from Friendly High School present their segment, "School Girl's Dream, " at Camelot of Upper Marlboro, on the grounds of Evangel Cathedral.Frederick Douglass and Archbishop Carroll tied for first place, splitting the $1,000 prize. DuVal won second place and a check for $300, while Charles H. Flowers took third place and $200. The prize money will go to the schools' performing arts programs.

The event, presented for the third year, features students who are mostly from Prince George's County, and aims to foster such characteristics as good sportsmanship and positive self-image. Last year, 1,200 people attended the program, which was held at the University of Maryland.

Tracy M. Cooper founded the fashion battle, presented annually during the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday weekend. She said she wanted to give teenagers a more creative way to express themselves.

Team members from Parkdale High School in Riverdale model fashions in the themed segment "We're Not in Kansas Anymore" at the third annual competition."I started this based on the need for quality programs in our community," Cooper said, "These kids need a healthy activity in a safe environment. They want to come out."

Cooper came up with a name for the event and secured non-profit status. She has found venues to host the shows and people to help produce them. Students themselves audition the models and choreographers, and they find or design and make the clothes.

Students also raise money for staging materials and compose and arrange background music.

Ryan Warwick of Archbishop Carroll High School, whose team tied for first placeTeams from each school are required to create a 10-minute fashion segment. The segments must mix fashion with theatrics. A panel of judges, encouraged by cheering students in the audience, decide the winners.

"The show was great," said Antonio Webb, 18, a Mohawk-wearing Roosevelt High senior who was one of the models. "I never did a show before. I had a lot of fun."

Letia Naylor, a 17-year-old student at the SEED Public Charter School in the District, attended the show and liked it.

"I think it's nice; it keeps people entertained and off of the streets," said Naylor, a fan of fashion. "It's a good way to keep everybody together."

Kimiesha Henderson and Jasmine Griffith, also of Archbishop Carroll



Reaching out to teens through performing arts

By Lisa R. Rhodes (LAUREL LEADER)
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Shawnes Nicholls models clothing in a Teens Count fashion show July 11 at the Jokes on Us Comedy Club. Nicholls was performing in a skit called "Emotional Rollercoaster."
Photo by Denis Rochefort


Two weekends ago, a group of teenagers stayed up late two nights in a row preparing for a youth fashion show July 11 at the Jokes On Us Comedy Club on Main Street.

Some of the youth had considered going to a party in another city the night of July 10, but Tracy Cooper convinced them too much remained to be done preparing clothes for the show, she said.

One 16-year-old youth who was scheduled to dance in the show did attend the party and, tragically, he was shot to death there, Cooper said.

"Thank God (the others) did not go," Cooper said.

Keeping youths involved in constructive activities and out of trouble was one of her purposes when she founded Teens Count four years ago, Cooper said. The organization provides performing-arts classes and related activities for children ages 8 to 18.

Teens Count held an open house at space it has just occupied on the second level of Laurel Mall on July 10. Classes, which formerly were held at Jokes On Us, will now be held at the mall, she said.

Cooper said she hopes the organization's new nonprofit status, achieved two months ago, will encourage community members to contribute to the youth group.

"I just really believe in this organization," said Cooper, a Burtonsville resident. "I'm in it for the long haul."

Marcia Jefferson said Teens Count has benefitted her daughter Deanna, 18, who has been involved with the organization for three years.

Deanna, a cousin and a friend worked with Cooper as coordinators of the July 11 fashion show, she said. "They've gained the experience of guiding (other) teenagers to be models, and learning what it takes to put on a fashion show, how difficult it really is."

Marcia Jefferson said Teens Count put on a particularly good fashion show last year at Bowie State University, in which several high schools competed. Laurel High won the competition, she noted.

Cooper said she started Teens Count because she could not find affordable, high-quality performing-arts classes for her son and daughter.

An event-planning contractor, Cooper said she and her siblings developed a love of the performing arts from her mother, who participated in repertory theater in Washington, D.C.

When Cooper decided to create her own organization, she relied on family members to provide help with the business aspects: everything from accounting to submitting the paperwork for nonprofit status.

In addition to modeling, the organization provides theater and fitness classes, she said.

Cooper said she is so passionate about the Teens Count programs that she has spent some of her retirement fund to keep the organization going.

Caroline Pleasant, an actress and improvisational-theater instructor for Teens Count, said performing arts classes, specifically theater, boost young people's self esteem and encourage them to think on their feet.

"You learn to resolve conflicts in a positive manner and use creative language skills," said Pleasant, who also taught theater classes last summer.

Cooper said she solicits instructors through theatrical companies in the Washington area. The price for Teens Count classes ranges from free to $275 for a two-week theatrical summer camp. Some children get scholarships to attend camp.

On July 23, Cooper said Teens Count will take the youth who participated in the Jokes On Us fashion show on a bus ride to the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York City.

For the future, Cooper said she hopes Teens Count will continue to grow and that she will some day be able to offer her programs at no cost.

"I didn't know (Teens Count) would take over me," Cooper said. "It has kept my interest. I enjoy it."

Teens Count's phone number is 202-413-2950 and its Web site is The organization will start a two-week theater summer camp on Aug. 2, with possible before- and after-care. Laurel Mall is providing some scholarships to the camp, Cooper said.



District Chronicles - January 10, 2002
Teens Count Provides a Venue for Youth to
Express Themselves Artistically
by Denise Caldwell

Teens flocked to the Jokes On Us Comedy Club in Laurel, MD for the three-week auditions to participate in "Teen Talent Search 2002" held by the Teens Count program. The talent show was established in order to provide exposure for teenagers who are interested in the arts.

"Teens Count is a program dedicated to empower, enrich, enlighten and encourage children through creative enhancement workshops," said Tracy Cooper, the executive director and founder of Teens Count. "This is an exciting opportunity for them to spotlight their vocal talents."

True Harmony, a group of teens who attend Charles Herbert Flowers High School in Maryland await the arrival of their sixth member, for the performance of a lifetime. The Maryland-based group will be auditioning for a place in the "Teen Talent Search 2002." As the group passes the time, they begin to rehearse their routine. When their final member, Asia Borders arrives, the group is finally ready. Dressed in a uniform of all black, they perform a gospel selection, a cappella. After their debut, each member is delighted to find out that they are to appear in the talent search. With excitement, the six members are ready to begin practicing for a place in the competition.

"Although this isn't our first time performing, we are excited that we will be displaying our talent in front of our peers," said the high school sophomore, Jonathan Patton.

True Harmony has performed in such venues as the Kennedy Center and are members of the Maryland State Honors Choir.

John Carter, the parent of member Cheri Carter is very supportive of his daughter's accomplishments. He is our chauffeur, manager, and coach. I am so happy that my father is interested in my talents and what I ultimately desire to achieve," said the younger Carter.

While the actual event will not be held until January 26, 2002 at Jokes On Us, the teens involved in the production will participate in a series of workshops and seminars to prepare them. In conjunction with the development workshops to polish every act's performance, Teens Count also teaches the future stars etiquette.

Cooper assures parents that while everyone has an artistic ability, the agenda of the program is to groom the children for success. "We offer the key to unlock your child's potential. Through all our programs, we encourage positive thinking and physical awareness.

Participants between the ages of 12 and 17 flocked to the comedy club with the hopes of being selected to participate in the talent search. Last year's search included twenty participants. Thus far, 14 contestants have been selected for this year's competition.

A panel of three judges will select the winners on a point rating system. By assigning points, judges will rate the performance of each contestant in the categories of stage presence and appearance, energy and body language, attitude and expression, and overall performance. Performers will have three minutes to facilitate the audience with their vocal performance. Though the program currently only features vocal performers, they are looking to expand to other acts in the future.

The winners will be awarded a grand prize of $500 and a spot as the opening act for the club in February 2002, while second place winners will receive $200 and third place, $100.

With all the effort and hard work that is needed to organize this event, funding of the different programs is a major concern. It is important that the final product lives up to expectations. Cooper and Stash House Records were responsible for the majority of the funding last year.

One of these people is Jokes On Us Co-Owner, Everest "Pop" Thomas, along with Greg Poole and radio personality/comedian Chris Paul. All three purchased the old dinner theatre and reconstructed it into a comedy venue. Jokes on Us is usually an environment dedicated solely to comedy, amusement and nightlife.

When asked why it was important to contribute to this fantastic occasion, Thomas expressed his sincere appreciation for the arts and Cooper's endeavor to promote children in the community. "Jokes on Us Comedy Club strives to foster a relaxed, yet creative atmosphere where young artists are free to explore new approaches and techniques in a supportive atmosphere," he said.

Shamika Washington, a student at Walker Mills Middle School in Maryland, placed third in last year's contest, and returned to give the competition her best shot. After performing a melody of Alicia Keys' songs, Washington explained why she came back. "I really enjoyed the talent show last year, I was introduced to different forms of the arts and it was fun" she said.

For more information on Jokes On Us Comedy Club,
visit them online at

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