This year, students from around Henrico County will, for the first time, be given an opportunity essential to the high school experience: attending prom.
Although students enrolled in Henrico’s Exceptional Education program are allowed to attend prom alongside their fellow students, it can oftentimes be an overwhelming experience for them. Last year, Freeman and Glen Allen had a trial run for an All-Star Prom, but this year’s prom is open to all Exceptional Education students in the county.
Social Studies teacher Laura Jones is one of the Freeman staff members organizing the prom alongside Greg Townsend (science), Tim Sanders (administration), and Lauren Lightfoot-Clare (exceptional education and administration), and other staff members of the Exceptional Education program.
“Our goal last year was to have [a prom] big enough for the entire county but we couldn’t quite make that happen. This year, that has been the plan all along and it is in the works to now include most of the schools in the West End” said Ms. Jones.
While all schools in the county have been invited to the event, there is already an Exceptional Education Prom held in the east end for nearby Henrico high schools.
The idea for a prom designed for Exceptional Education students came from teachers attending a program called “Jostens Renaissance”, whose goal is to “allow schools to recreate their culture to meet the changing demographics” according to Ms. Jones.
Planning for this year’s All-Star Prom has been going on for over a year. The number of students expected to attend ranges from 150 students to 400 students. It will be held in the commons area of Glen Allen High School on Saturday, May 4th.
This year’s event is a prime example of the Richmond community coming together for good: a local Chick-Fil-A has agreed to cater the entire event free of charge, Henrico County is providing buses for all Exceptional Education students attending, the Freeman PTSA is purchasing the decor, and an anonymous donor has volunteered to cover any additional costs.
“There were several moments in the evening that I wanted to cry tears of happiness because for me it was pure magic to see these students and their families be able to have what is such an important rite of passage in high school that they had been denied all these years” said Ms. Jones.
While the event is fully funded, student volunteers are still needed. If you are interested in helping at the All-Star Prom, please contact Ms. Jones in room 137.