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20th annual prom held for UCPS special needs students

Tyler Hargett, center, 15, a 10th grader, and Natalie Pate, right, a senior, both Key Club members at Parkwood High School, and Kate Latta, at left, a transition to adulthood teacher at Monroe High School, enjoy dancing to the beat during the Special Needs Prom held Friday (May, 13, 2011) at First Presbyterian Church.

Formal dresses swirling to the rhythm of the beat. Corsages adorning the wrists of smiling young girls waiting for fellow classmates, decked out in suits and tuxedoes, to ask them to dance.

This prom is very typical of any high school prom, except for one thing -- it's given for students by students. For the past 20 years Parkwood High School Key Club students have hosted a prom for special needs students who attend Union County Public Schools.

The prom, held at First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, was hosted by about 50 Key Club members from Parkwood High School, treating almost 100 students from Wolfe School, Parkwood, Weddington, Piedmont, Monroe High and Porter Ridge high schools.

It offered much of the same activities that most high school proms offer – getting all dressed up, dancing to the rocking sounds of a DJ, an opportunity to have a prom picture taken, good food and lots of smiling faces.

Students danced to the tunes provided by Jimmy Huntley, with Bass FX in Monroe, in a room that glittered with decorations accenting its theme of "Hollywood."

"It's going great," said Key Club’s president, Julia Kenney, 18, a senior at Parkwood High School. "Our biggest challenge was putting everything together to make it perfect for them. I'm so happy with the way things came out, with the decorations, with the fun they're having. Things went without a hitch."

Wolfe School principal Mary Jo Breckenridge said besides having loads of fun, the event improves special needs students’ social skills. "This is the best day of the year for them," she said. "Our students look forward to this day all year. Parkwood High does a great job. I can not give them enough credit."

Parkwood High School has been hosting the Special Needs Prom since 1991. Its principal Jan Hollis said it's the students' way of giving back to the community.

Some of the local business sponsors for the event include CiCi's Pizza in Monroe, Targets in Wesley Chapel, Harris Teeter in Monroe and Ray Cook Farms in Monroe.
 

Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator
Video by: Don Mace, UCPS Web Communications Coordinator
Posted: May 13, 2011 by Deb Coates Bledsoe

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