Making memories: CDC students ‘masquerade’ through special night

Making memories: CDC students ‘masquerade’ through special night
Making memories: CDC students ‘masquerade’ through special night | Making memories: CDC students ‘masquerade’ through special night
By CHRIS MENEES
Staff Reporter
Memories were made Monday evening at Obion County Central High School.
And the students from the school’s Comprehensive Development Class (CDC) have the photos to prove it.
The second annual CDC prom — with a masquerade theme — was staged to treat the school’s more challenged students and their families to an evening of dancing and partying in a full-blown prom setting.
OCCHS teacher and Future Teachers of America (FTA) sponsor Beth McManus said the event has become “very near and dear to the people of Obion County.”
The concept began two years ago as a thought from Troy First Baptist Church youth pastor Tony Jones, who pointed out to daughter Lauren Jones, FTA president at the time, that CDC students do not attend regular school dances. She shared the idea with fellow FTA members and the vision for the special prom turned into a reality last year.
Planning for this year’s CDC prom began as OCCHS’ junior class planned its regular school prom, choosing the masquerade theme. Their supplies were stored at the school’s ag shop until the special ed prom decoration began nine days later.
The FTA students made contacts for donations of food and many other needs, as well as worked with the juniors to set up their prom and dismantle it. Then, students in Mrs. McManus’ classes moved the prom kit and set it up in the school’s practice gym for Monday night’s special event.
As the excitement built, the CDC students received the royal treatment and some special pampering Monday in preparation for their big night. They were dressed and ready to roll by 3:45 p.m., when they loaded into limousines and were driven to the rear gym for a grand entrance along the red carpet.
The Rev. Steve Carr and his wife, Renee, of Union City shared some emotional moments Monday evening as they watched their son, Stephen Carr II, an 18-year-old CDC student, walk the red carpet for his first-ever prom.
“He’s had a big smile on his face, which makes us smile, too,” Carr said. “It was very emotional for me. When he got out of the limousine and stood up, I was standing there and I just got kind of teary.”
Mrs. Carr said the evening’s events were tailored to their autistic son’s needs and he was enjoying every minute of it with his date. She said even though Stephen is non-verbal and can’t tell his parents what he enjoyed, she knows he will remember it.
“We’ll remember, that’s for sure,” Carr added.
Natalie Terry of Troy, whose son Brandon, a CDC student, was back for his second prom, said the event is especially wonderful “because it’s a family event and everybody has a good time.”
Brandon’s date was his twin sister, Shelby, a junior at OCCHS.
“It’s just wonderful because the whole family gets to come and the community comes together,” Mrs. Terry said. “Some of his teachers came and saw him dressed up and in his tux. It’s a good event.”
She said she is especially appreciative to the FTA students and Mrs. McManus for their efforts.
“It is a joy and it’s uplifting to see the Future Teachers of America and some of the other regular education students work so hard for the special education students and they all come together,” Mrs. Terry added. “Everybody is having a blast.”
Prom-pampered
Not only were the FTA students and entire OCCHS student body determined to make the prom a success, but many volunteers throughout the community also stepped forward to donate time and supplies.
Mrs. McManus said the FTA is extremely thankful for everything which was donated to give the prom attendees and their families the royal treatment.
For the CDC students, the pampering included:
• Hair and makeup treatment provided by OCCHS cosmetology classes, taught by Sissy Nicks and D’Anna Vancleave, and manicures by the CDC student aide helpers and teacher Mary Jane Wiseman.
• Prom dresses loaned to young ladies by current and former students and teachers from other schools in the system, as well as one dress borrowed from JoAnn’s Fashions.
• Tuxedos loaned to the young men by Bennett’s and owner Raiford Tarver.
• Wristlet corsages for each young lady, provided by Briar Patch.
• Boutonnieres for the young men, provided by OCCHS guidance secretary and counselors Debbie Underwood, Heather Kendall and LouAnn Perry.
• A walk down the red carpet, provided by Celebrations by Sheila, in an entrance area flanked by red ropes, borrowed from Hollywood Showcase.
• Photos with dates and family, with photography provided by OCCHS educational assistant Teresa Hutchison and aided by a monetary donation from Antioch Union Church for a photo set for each student.
• Limousine rides for the grand entrance red carpet walks, as well as rides around town for attendees’ entire families, courtesy of Parks Luxury Limousines and owner Barrett Betts.
• An evening of music provided by disc jockey Jason Webb, the husband of OCCHS math teacher Casey Webb, in a fully-decorated prom setting.
• Refreshments — including fruit trays, punch, sandwiches, vegetable trays, cookies and soft drinks — provided by OCCHS culinary classes, taught by Michelle Bruner, as well as donations from Donna Middlebrook, Higher Ground Coffee Co., Kelly Preuett, Debbie Nieves, Mrs. Terry, the Sweet Tooth and CAM Electric.
• “Swag bags,” filled with monogrammed prom cups with straws, candies and goodies, provided by FTA members.
Mrs. McManus also expressed appreciation to the OCCHS junior class and prom sponsors, including coordinator Melanie Mitchell, and to co-sponsor Jan McGreger for their efforts.
Special success
“I think this year’s prom is going great,” Mrs. McManus told The Messenger as she stood back and watched the CDC students and their dates dance away the evening Monday. “Everybody’s having a good time. Some of them were off the red carpet before we could even take a picture.”
This year’s number of attendees was up to 17 students — more than double the number who attended last year’s inaugural event.
“This year, we had 17 students, whereas last year we only had seven,” Mrs. McManus said. “There are more students in the CDC program this year compared to last year, so we have more students this year, which means more parents, more decorations, more food, more everything — so that’s great.”
It was a special treat for not only the CDC students, but for their parents, siblings, grandparents and other family members as well.
“There are parents who are here for the first time this year who are telling us that they’ve never seen anything like this before, they’ve never been invited to anything like this before,” Mrs. McManus said.
She said participation in the event is also a learning experience for the OCCHS students who help decorate and stage the CDC prom.
“It’s a good lesson in humility for them to give but not receive something immediately in return,” she said.
Mrs. McManus noted every CDC student had a date for the evening, which shows how important the event has become to OCCHS’ entire student body.
“That just means that there are people outside of FTA in this school who understand what this means to these students. They see what a big deal it is, and more so to their families than anything,” she said.
“I just talked to one parent of a freshman who said that in all their years of having a child — their son is in a wheelchair — they’ve just never seen anything like this. They said their whole world revolves around taking care of their son, so if it’s not for him, they don’t do it. And they don’t go to things like this because it’s not for him, but this is specifically for him.”
Published in The Messenger 5.8.13

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