Best Buddies Prom

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Friday, April 26 marked the first annual Best Buddies Prom at Athens Drive Magnet High School. Special education students from Athens Drive and Broughton dressed up for a time of fun and dancing.

Broughton High School’s Student Government typically hosts a beach-themed dance in the month of April that students from the Athens Drive Special Education are invited to. Students are decked out in their leis, sunglasses and Hawaiian shirts. While these students normally enjoy the dance, their teachers thought they might enjoy a formal dance as well.

Various groups around the school pitched in to make this dream a reality. The front office made tissue paper corsages and boutonnières by hand for each student to wear. The students were able to pick out a tissue paper flower to compliment their outfit as they walked down the red carpet.

Additionally, various STEM students volunteered to help make the beaded centerpieces for the tables. Cyrene Hardy, healthful living teacher, encouraged her Physical Education Peer Instructors (PEPI) class to get involved and help in the planning process. Alicia Hatmaker, social studies teacher, enabled her third period American History II students to volunteer by serving food and interacting with students on the day of the event. Hatmaker also served as photographer for the event’s photobooth.

Best Buddies club also played a role in the event. Best Buddies club works throughout the school year to foster relationships between special education students and general education students. Through crafts and activities, students build friendships and help to break down social barriers. Best Buddies club members typically accompany the students at Broughton’s dance and were looking forward to doing this at Athens as well. Club members also helped to organize the event, set up decorations and clean up.

Many students who participate in Best Buddies club often describe how much they have learned from the special education students. Shelby Hinshaw, senior, is a leader of Best Buddies club and encourages everyone to get involved.

“They really know how to have a good time and they are so loving to everyone they meet, which really shows a good example of how we all should be,” said Hinshaw.

Members of PEPI and Best Buddies club promposed to the students April 12. They worked together to make a big sign that said, “Will you be my munchkin at prom?” The students received Munchkins from Dunkin Donuts while “Sugar, Sugar” by The Archies played in the background.

Additionally, students were able to get formal wear from the Cinderella Project free of charge. Student Council hosts this event annually to provide students with the opportunity to go to prom without having to spend a lot of money on their outfit. While this event was open to the regular student body during lunch and after school, special education students got their own time to shop for their favorite dresses and tuxedos. Student Council also lent decorations from this year’s prom May 4 to be used for this event as well.

Ekklesia, a church that worships at Athens Drive, also pitched in to make the event special. A couple of their members volunteered their sound equipment and served as DJs. Additionally, they donated all of the pizza for the event.

On the day of the event, students were giddy with excitement. They lined the hallways holding signs displaying the names of Broughton guests. When the guests arrived, Athens special education students and Best Buddies club volunteers escorted them to get their corsages and boutonnières. Then, each special education student had the opportunity to walk down the red carpet while being cheered on by students, teachers, and volunteers from the community. Rocco Nociti, senior, announced each student’s name as they walked down the red carpet.

“In order to enter the prom, the students lined up outside the gym with signs that read their name, then one by one walked inside the doors down a red carpet to enter the prom. As each student walked down the dim lit carpet, Best Buddies volunteers held up their phone flashlights to resemble paparazzi and I announced their name and welcomed them into the dance. Seeing their faces light up as they walked down the red carpet put just as big of a smile on my face. They were so appreciative and loved being able to have their own prom,” said Nociti.

Many different volunteers shared how fun and encouraging the event was for everyone involved.

“Getting to hang out and spend time with the students is so much fun, they really love dancing,” said Hinshaw.

Overall, the highlight of the event seemed to be the students. Some people who participated in the event described the charisma and joy that radiated from the special education students. While their teachers might have described some of the students as shy in the classroom, they let loose on the dance floor.

“My favorite part was being able to let loose and have fun with the students. From dancing to seeing everyone in their beautiful dresses and nice ties, the Best Buddies Prom was a great experience and above all, it can be summed up in one word: fun. The music and the decorations completed the atmosphere so it was kind of hard not to dance,” said Nociti.


Students let loose and dance at the first annual Best Buddies Prom.