It was a day of glitz, glamour and good times for a select group of students at Pahrump Valley High School as the first-ever Special Education Prom commenced on Friday, May 12.
Accommodations were made by a number of faculty, administrators, fellow students and volunteers to make the event memorable. The special education program supports students with physical, emotional and intellectual disabilities, according to instructor Tara Lusar, who’s now in her second year at the high school.
She noted that the prom was held during school hours and was open to all special-needs students, not just the upperclassmen.
“You have to be an 11th- or 12th-grade student to attend the prom,” Lusar said. “The fact that our students share classes with ninth- and 10th-graders, we wanted them to be able to attend prom as a group so they could practice social skills,” she said. “Sometimes too, maybe their bedtimes may be too early, or they have different needs. It’s really nice to do it during the school day where the staff and the paraprofessionals can help them with all of their needs.”
Lusar praised the efforts of parents and students for helping to plan and prepare for the prom.
“They were so excited when we started talking about it and the parents actually helped us,” Lusar said. “As a class, we ordered stuff online and they picked out what they wanted for decorations and we had a lot of parents and obviously community support, which was really awesome because they all came together. We had parents help to get us donations from community members and we ordered all the items that they wanted from Amazon and Walmart.”
Riding in style
The Pahrump Senior Center was among those entities that assisted in the effort by providing chauffeured transportation for the students, according to its Transportation Manager, Laura Blankenship.
She said the ride to prom was a just a short distance from one side of the campus to the other in a decked-out passenger bus.
“We made five trips and we had three students that were in wheelchairs,” Blankenship said. “Including the guardians, the teachers, and the kids, we probably had a total of about 50 to 60 passengers.”
Blankenship described what the students experienced when they arrived at the school’s auditorium.
“It was absolutely beautiful,” she said. “They got to walk the red carpet and get their pictures professionally taken. There were flashbulbs going off and they all had an amazing time. They were so excited and just thought it was the coolest thing ever because they felt so special and important. You could just tell that it kind of made them feel like little rock stars getting to ride on the bus from the front of the school over to the gym, and it made them feel like VIPs. They enjoyed every minute of it and it was it was just awesome. They were made to feel really special, which they rightfully should.”
Once inside the gymnasium, the students were treated with a feast for the eyes courtesy of volunteers who decorated the interior.
“They decorated the gym just as they would for a regular prom with the high school’s colors of maroon and gold,” Blankenship said.
Dressed to the nines
Students were able to select a prom wardrobe ahead of the event, including gowns and tuxedos, thanks to Mary Martinez, manager of the Trojan Trunk ,which provides clothing for students in need at the school. Martinez also acted as DJ at the prom.
More to come
Lusar says the Special Education Prom may become an annual event at the high school.
“The amount of support this year was huge,” she said. “I think with what we’ve already been able to purchase for this year, we’re definitely set for years to come because we already have almost everything that we need for decorations and things like that.”
Lusar noted that the event would not have been possible without the support of more than a dozen local businesses and entities including the high school’s Key Club and the Kiwanis Club of Pahrump Valley Foundation.
Contact reporter Selwyn Harris at firstname.lastname@example.org. On Twitter: @pvtimes