She walked into the room full of several hundred shiny, sequined, bedazzled prom dresses like a girl on a mission — a mission to find the perfect dress.

And the senior from Akron’s East High School was the first of 48 lucky girls picked from East and Buchtel high schools to be part of Savannah James’ seventh-annual Prom Promise event, where they pick out a dress for free to emerge Monday with two possible gowns. No two dresses in the event are alike. Each is a new gown James acquires throughout the year as she finds dresses she likes.

Germany Bell clutched a lavender, floor-length gown.

“I like purple,” she said.

Her high school counselor, Bianca Ford, had a blue one in her arms.

“She will look like a princess in this one,” Ford said.

Remembering her own prom from her school days at Buchtel, James told the girls over a fancy lunch in the ballroom at the Hilton Akron/Fairlawn that she started the day of pampering as a way of giving back to the city she loves.

“I would not want any girl to not have that experience,” she said. More than 500 girls have benefited from the charitable endeavor.

James told the girls to tune out all the negativity in the world and the stress of high school, and look toward the light at the end of the tunnel with prom and graduation just around the corner.

“Just find your light and know what you are passionate about, and don’t let anyone or anything stand in your way,” she said.

The girls also got tips on the do’s and don’ts of applying makeup before the prom.

And inside of their personal dressing rooms were what organizers called “happy, happy swag bags” containing, among other things, makeup and Beats headsets.

East’s Octavia Faupel was selected as the makeup model as the professional cosmetologists worked their magic.

The senior said they were a lot more skilled and detailed than her own personal makeup routine.

As for her dress, she tried on a blue one first.

But it was dress No. 2 — a red one — that caught her and James’ eye.

“Savannah said, ‘That’s your dress,’ ” Faupel said. “I said, ‘Yes!’ It looks great.”

The narrowing process was not as fast for Bell.

The purple and blue dresses did not make the cut. Nor did dress No. 3 or 4.

Dresses 5 and 6 — a black and a pink one — held promise, but just weren’t “the one.”

“This is all a lot to take in at once,” she admitted. “I just feel so lucky to be a part of this.”

As time wore on and the options narrowed as other girls picked dress after dress, Bell’s search continued.

Dress No. 7, a purple one, was a scratch.

Dress No. 8 was a definite maybe.

In ensuing order, a light green gown, followed by a black one, then an orange one made their way to the fitting room.

After 11 dresses, Germany picked No. 8 (a red one).

With a big smile, Germany made her way to another table and another decision — to pick out jewelry to wear on the big night.

“I am now super excited for prom.”

Craig Webb, who made an unfortunate purple cummerbund choice for his own high school prom, can be reached at cwebb@thebeaconjournal.com or 330-996-3547.