|CDC prom treats special students to fairy tale evening |
|Posted: Thursday, May 10, 2012 9:07 pm |
| By CHRIS MENEES |
It was a night to remember — for everyone involved.
Comprehensive Devel-opment Class (CDC) students at Obion County Central High School were treated to a fairy tale evening Monday, courtesy of the school’s Future Teachers of America chapter and the support of the entire community.
A CDC prom — with the theme “Midnight in Paris” — was staged to give the school’s more challenged students and their families an opportunity to dance and party “in celebratory mode,” according to teacher and FTA advisor Beth McManus.
The idea for the event came about a year ago when youth pastor Tony Jones of Troy First Baptist Church suggested to his daughter, Lauren Jones, Future Teachers of America (FTA) president, that the group host a prom for CDC students, since they are not in attendance at other school dances.
The general plans were put into place almost immediately for this year’s first-ever prom for the students with special learning needs. The finishing touches for the gala event were completed over the last two months.
The excitement mounted in the days leading up to Monday evening’s red carpet-style event and Mrs. McManus said she was simply overwhelmed by its success.
“It’s something that reaches the community,” she said.
Unlike a traditional school prom for juniors and seniors, the CDC prom was open to all CDC students and their families.
“They could bring a date and their whole family, so it’s a family prom instead of just them and their date,” Mrs. McManus said. “The whole family was invited as a celebration for their family.”
She said it was touching to see the students mingling in the halls prior to the event as they asked for dates and all of the CDC students found escorts.
“They were so excited. They were on the dance floor before we ever got them off the red carpet (at the entrance),” she said.
The FTA members and the entire student body embraced the effort — from helping find just the right prom dresses or suits for some of the guests to joining them on the dance floor for an evening of fancy footwork.
“I’m overwhelmed. I’ve cried three times tonight,” Mrs. McManus told The Messenger at Monday evening’s event. “Many times over the process, I would say, ‘I want the wow factor to be there, I really want them to be excited.’ … They’re having a big time, smiling from ear to ear. We knew that when they came in and we started seeing the smiles, it was going to be well worth it.
“The families that have come and talked to us said this is the most precious thing that they’ve ever had done for their children. We plan on making this an annual event. … The families are so excited and so thankful.”
CDC teacher Nathan Castleman said when he first heard mention of the prom, he thought it might be a simple event staged in a classroom — but then it kept growing into a truly phenomenal event.
“The parents are all excited. You can tell they’re pleased with everything,” he said. “Everyone who worked on it now knows that it was well worth it. Every little bit of work they put into it, I think they see now, is just priceless to them.”
Castleman said nine of the dozen CDC students were in attendance, adding that those nine were “having a big time.”
Determined to make the CDC prom a success, the FTA students and the entire OCCHS student body — as well as the community — went above and beyond in what was provided Monday evening.
“We couldn’t have done it without all the extra help,” Mrs. McManus said. “People have been so nice.”
She said the FTA appreciated “the overwhelming support” for what is now expected to become an annual event.
The CDC students were given royal treatment which included:
• Girls being treated to manicures by their teacher, Mary Jane Wiseman.
• Being taken to the new cosmetology classroom to receive up-dos and curled hair for their big night, with fourth-year students Samantha St. John and Jamanda Spencer, students of Sissy Nicks and D’Anna Vancleave, volunteering to do the girls’ makeup.
• Enjoying treats and punch prepared by the culinary students in Michelle Bruner’s class, who kept in mind any special dietary needs, and mini sandwiches provided by Natalie Terry and fruit trays offered by Donna Middlebrook.
• Being dressed and prepped by their CDC teachers — Castleman, Ms. Wiseman, Deborah Lockwood and Julie Klein.
• Receiving corsages and boutonnieres donated by the Briar Patch in Troy, with FTA members pinning them just before a limousine picked up the students.
• Being picked up by Parks Luxury Limousine and owner Barrett Betts at the CDC classroom entrance and driven to the gymnasium entrance at the school. There, they were greeted by a “paparazzi” setting of friends, parents, teachers and students who photographed them as they walked the red carpet flanked by festive red ropes, donated by Celebrations by Sheila and Hollywood Showcase.
• Having photos taken by educational assistant Teresa Hutchison, with each receiving an assortment of photos, plus a disc full of photos courtesy of FTA.
• Enjoying their favorite music spun by FTA member-turned-disc jockey Davey Edmaiston, who played songs from a list gathered beforehand.
In the meantime, as the CDC students were getting ready for prom, FTA students were rewarded with a treat of pizza donated by Little Caesar’s in Union City, according to Mrs. McManus.
“Thanks to everyone who donated their time and efforts,” she added. “So many students appeared to help that weren’t even a part of FTA. Teachers went home and changed and put on prom dresses and returned to help with the event and stayed until clean-up. Former teachers of these students came to dance and celebrate, too. So much happened.”
Mrs. McManus said the prom held special meaning for her and three other OCCHS teachers, Shannon Lyon, Jennifer Cox and Michelle Johnston. She explained her mother’s older brother was born handicapped and, at no time in his life, ever went to school or received the special services children receive today. The other three teachers have siblings who were CDC students.
“(We) have talked often about what it would mean for our family members to have had something like this done for them. So, for us, the event took on a special meaning and we’ve all committed to repeating it again each year,” she said.
OCCHS principal Linda Crigger she is thankful for the support of the community, businesses and students from traditional classes who “stepped up and have come to be soulmates and friends” with the CDC students.
“This is such a great thing for both sets of students,” Ms. Crigger said. “I’m just proud that somebody took the initiative to take the responsibility to do it, because it just shows what we’re about at Obion County Central. They did not do it halfway. They did it right. I’m proud of all of them. I was just overwhelmed of the success that not only did it bring to the students, but there were adults who were touched by what has taken place.”
Ms. Crigger said the CDC students are an important part of the student body at OCCHS and are deserving of the star treatment they received at their prom.
“They are a part of us just like Academic Decathlon is a part of us. We don’t separate or differentiate between the two. It’s all one here. And that being all one shows tonight,” Ms. Crigger said. “This is just an example of what we try to portray in the community at Obion County Central. We really do care about kids.”
Published in The Messenger 5.10.12