CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Richard King High School's fashion-design program is already taking its students places.
"This is the only school that offers it," said family consumer science teacher Valerie Elizondo. "You can start off with not knowing anything about sewing and you can end up going to competition. We've gone all the way to Los Angeles, we've gone all the way to Washington, DC."
Each of Corpus Christi Independent School District's six high schools has at least one specialized instruction class.
Elizondo said the program started off as a semester class 13 years ago. It has evolved into a three-year course.
"We're not your old home EC class where you made a pair of pajama bottoms," she said. "We actually make a garment they can wear because of our end-of-the-year runway show."
Student Marisa Morales is taking the course because she likes designing her own clothes.
"Once I did that, I wanted to learn how to actually make them," she said.
Students learn things such as which fabric works best for different types of clothes.
"Like, you're not gonna use wedding dress fabric for a bathing suit and vice versa," Elizondo said.
Morales said Elizondo showed her how to use patterns in the class, giving her a foundation for solid construction.
"It showed me how clothes work, like the different patterns, shapes, and sizes," she said.
Elizondo said the sewing and design skills helped some of her former students get through college.
"I've had lots of students that have gone off to college and that's been their spending money," she said. "You know, they learn to make tote bags or bucket hats, or masks and they sell them as a little side gig and make some money and put themselves through college."
Morales said the class is helping her make better decisions when it comes to purchasing clothes.
"If I went to the mall, I could tell how they put it together or if they put it together good enough for the price," she said.
CCISD provides the program with sewing machines, and it receives donations. The program also partners with the American Sewing Guild.
"They come in and they are always, always donating fabric; sewing machines," Elizondo said. "The retired ladies come in and they give us their wisdom and help us throughout the year."
Students compete in two competitions. One is the annual Red Dress competition, where King students compete with the University of the Incarnate Word. The other is a competition held by the Family, Career and Community Leaders of America, which is a regional event held in Corpus Christi.
If students make it through the competition they go to state, which is held in Dallas. If students make it past the state-level competition, they go to nationals.
Elizondo said the students never cease to amaze her.
"Every year somebody comes in and they have the vision in their head," she said. "They put it on the mannequin, the dress form, and the garment comes to life."
If you are interested in joining the class click here.
"Hopefully, it's a skill that they'll keep the rest of their lives and utilize it in some way, shape, or form," Elizondo said. "It's a fun class."