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Special Needs Prom offers students chance to kick up heels

Front Row: Megan Scott, Caitlin Wenzell, Carmen Villagomez, Brian Gavigan, Lindsay Baist. Back Row: Chase Bost, Robert Estes, Will Wenger, Christian McClendon, Matthew Smith, Heath Fisher, Val Allen.

For the past 19 years Parkwood High School Key Club students have hosted a prom for special needs students who attend Union County Public Schools.
About 50 Key Club members treated almost 100 special needs students from Wolfe School, Monroe, Weddington and Porter Ridge high schools to a fun-filled prom, with the theme “Royal Fairytale.”
“We enjoy helping the community. That’s what Key Club is all about,” said Haiden Laney, Parkwood High’s Key Club sponsor. “We also enjoy working with special needs students, because if we didn’t do this, they wouldn’t have a prom. They have a blast and our students do also.”
The dance floor, courtesy of First Presbyterian Church in Monroe, pulsed to the music provided compliments of Jimmy Huntley, with Bass FX in Monroe. It offered much of the same activities that most high school proms offer – getting all dressed up, dancing to the sounds of DJ music, an opportunity to have a prom picture taken, good food and lots of smiling faces.
Wolfe School principal Mary Jo Breckenridge said besides having loads of fun, the event improves special needs students’ social skills and teaches them how to dress up for formal events. It’s also an opportunity for the special needs students to intermingle with “regular” high school students.
“That’s what it’s all about; building community and giving them the experience of being with regular high school students; improving their social skills,” she said. “The students at Parkwood did a fantastic job. They’re wonderful.”
Key Club’s president-elect, Julia Kenney, 17, a junior at Parkwood, said all students were given accessories to satisfy the theme. “Our theme is Royal Fairytale. We have princes, princesses, kings and queens; we have tiaras, crowns, wands or scepters and sashes for the princesses. Even though they may not be able to attend a normal prom, they can still have their own prom. And still have a ton of fun. To do this for these students is a really good feeling for the Key Club members, and it gives us lots of experiences in planning events like this and in working with special needs individuals.”
Parkwood High School has been hosting the Special Needs Prom since 1991.


Written by: Deb Coates Bledsoe, UCPS Communications Coordinator, Communications Department
Posted: May 24, 2010 by Cheryl Edwards

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