The Vandegrift High School “Vandy’s Dandies” Advanced Floral Design Program flowered for CASA of Travis County‘s Annual Casablanca Gala held at the JW Marriott in Austin Feb. 3.

This is the second year that Vandegrift’s Floral Design program has flowered for the Casablanca Gala. The design order increased from 30 designs in 2023 to 90 designs and two statement pieces in 2024, a testament to the excellent design work from the students in this program.

“My Advanced Floral designers this year have absolutely blown me away!” Agricultural Science Teacher Shannon Tidwell said. “To have such a large group this year who are willing to show up on weekends, work hard and produce stunning work fills me with pride! Creating real and meaningful experiences like this is what this job is all about.”

During the week leading up to the event, all 28 of the Advanced Floral designers participated in creating 38 floral pieces that were attached to clear acrylic centerpiece stands. Students Emmie Gardner, Rachel Mapes and Bryn Pearce helped build two floral pillars that were placed on either side of the podium on the main stage. Emmie Gardner also designed the main entryway design, which was placed on the registration table. 

On the morning of the event, a team of eight student designers joined Tidwell to deliver and set up the remaining designs. This team included senior Belle Autry, junior Ava Blauvelt, senior Alissa Dovich, alumna Katelin Dovich, junior Emmie Gardner, junior Rachel Mapes, junior Caroline Peden, junior Madison Slack and student teacher Maggie Bayer. During set-up, designers created 71 whimsical pin frog centerpieces and added final touches to the designs that were made during class in the preceding days.

Tidwell had the opportunity to attend the event along with over a thousand other people. Nearly 2 million dollars were raised for CASA. Every single table in the room had a design created by a Vandegrift High School floral designer, and according to Tidwell, the student work received endless compliments. A reporter from Curated Texan Magazine stated that the podium floral piece was the best one that they had seen all season. 

CASA representatives loved the idea of “kids helping kids,” and the Vandy’s Dandies loved having the opportunity to partner with an organization with such a noble and important cause.