Corsicana Daily Sun, Corsicana, Texas

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May 16, 2014

Special prom celebrates all students

Corsicana — Boys, looking handsome in their tuxes and bow ties, and pretty girls in brightly colored ball gowns filed into to the Calicos’ Dance Hall Friday for the Special Prom at Corsicana High School.

The special prom is an opportunity for special education students to have a dance of their own, although their dates were regular education students who serve throughout the school year as peer coaches.

Donovan Hailey is outgoing and funny, and he was dressed in a sleek vest and slacks for his date with Sandra Garay. He and Felix Soto shared her company Friday at the dance. Both boys are peer coaches and seniors.

“I just love helping out,” Hailey said. “These kids are amazing. You can be having a bad day and come in here and you’ll come out feeling ten times better.”

For the special prom, the special education students get to ask their peer coaches as their dates, explained vice principal Elmer Avelleneda.

“There’s about 40 students, partnered with 40 general education students as their actual dates to the prom,” he said.

Peer coach McKayla Goodwin went with Jarrett Schafer Friday for the second year in a row.

“It’s what I want to do, work with special ed kids,” Goodwin said.

Jarrett’s mom, Jessica Owens, volunteered with the Special Prom, along with her family and friends, who turned out to take formal photos and put up decorations.

“We go with the same theme they have at the regular prom so the kids get the same experience,” Owens said.

Donations came from the Citizens Bank and other sponsors to put on the Special Prom, but this year the students earned much of the money selling coffee and cookies from the “coffee cart” to teachers and staff at the high school. Victorian Sample donated decorations, and teachers and students donated dresses. The Police Association donated corsages and boutonnieres. The food was prepared by the culinary arts teachers and students, and the Spa of Corsicana helped the girls with makeup and hair. Lone Star Western Wear provided tuxes for the boys. Corsicana Cleaners cleaned and pressed the donated dresses, explained Kelsey Whiteley, teacher sponsor.

“The entire thing is centered around the general education kids and the special education kids,” Whiteley said. “We’ve had a whole lot of community support.”

Carol Gillman is a group home manager with ResCare who came to take photos of Kristen Paraguezza, whose family was too far away to attend.

“He’s so excited,” Gillman said. “He’s been talking about it all week. He loves to dance. Corsicana does such a good job, bless their hearts.”

Ashley Howard, 20, the older sister of Amber Howard, 18, took off from her job at Sonic to take pictures and see her little sis finally go to prom. No one else in the family could make it, she explained.

“She couldn’t wait to come,” Ashley said. “She was texting me all night. She was so happy.”

Jennifer Powell and her husband came as volunteers. Her daughter is a special education teacher, and Owens is a close friend.

“We’re here to celebrate all the kids,” Powell said.

Alexis Fields went to the regular prom last weekend, and wore her same flame-colored dress to the Special Prom Friday. She became a peer coach this year, so this was her first special prom.

“They’re so much fun to be around,” Fields said.

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