Everyone should get a prom
If you ask anyone what some of their best high school memories were, the majority will probably answer Prom or another type of formal dance. Prom is a tradition that everyone should be able to enjoy, and that doesn't exclude those with disabilities.
Woodbury High School will be hosting it's first ever "semi-formal," for students with Developmental Cognitive Disorder, or other types disabilities.
"It brings out a different side of them because they finally get to be dressed up and to do things that they wouldn't get to do on a normal basis," senior and coordinator Alexis Swanson said.
The idea for hosting a formal dance for the disabled students at WHS first came about when senior Amy Doreo was talking about her prom and getting ready when some of the DCD students she works with looked as if they wanted to go.
"Going to prom is not a safe environment for them, but they're so obsessed with High School Musical," she said. "They're my friends, so I just feel like they should get one, too."
"Just like they us, they like social events too, but there never has been a social gathering for them and I think it's about time."
DCD students, and other students with disabilities, are not able to participate in many of the high school gatherings or social events because they get really anxious in those situations and it's not a safe or comfortable environment for them.
"They have never really been accepted by the 'normal students," Doreo said. "If you're not friends with anybody there, it can be hard and parents don't want to send their kids into a place where there can be bullying."
Parents are invited to accompany students to the formal, but Doreo and Swanson have designated a parent area so that the students can have some sort of independence.
The students won't be alone either, there will be numerous volunteers who will be there to help.
"I think it will be good to show the tolerance here by having both 'normal ed' and 'special ed' at the dance," Doreo said.
During the dance, they will be playing all G-rated music, the music that the students enjoy.
"We're going to be playing the things they really enjoy listening to, but keep it fresh at the same time," Doreo said.
Doreo and Swanson have gone out into the community to get donations for the dance, and so far they have received corsages and boutonnieres for everyone, a chocolate fountain, beverages, and are even hoping to get the bounce house from Community Education if that is feasible.
Doreo said they are also looking for businesses to donate some sort of dinner for the dance since most of the students will be treating it as a date.
"Some of the kids are wanting to bring their dates there," she said. "So they'll be wanting to sit them down for dinner, and have this be a real event, a real date event."
In addition to just being a fun opportunity for the students, Swanson and Doreo said the dance will also be a chance for students to learn some necessary life skills -- such as social skills, manners, dressing nice -- these are all thing they will probably have to know down the road.
"It will actually help them learn, too," Doreo said. "It's how to act in different situations -- these are things that they need to know how to do."
In addition to WHS students, students from Woodbury Junior High School and Lake Junior High School are also invited to the dance. Doreo said all of the students that she has talked to are really excited for the dance.
The first ever semi-form for students with disabilities will be May 30 from 6-9 in the WHS cafeteria.
Tickets are $3 at the door and the event is open to all WHS, WJH and LJH students.