Having a Ball High Schools Host Prom for Special Education Students

By Holmes, Erin | Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 10, 2004 | Go to article overview

Having a Ball High Schools Host Prom for Special Education Students


Holmes, Erin, Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL)


Byline: Erin Holmes Daily Herald Staff Writer

Every prom night is magical.

This one was even more so.

On a crisp April night, 100 mildly mentally impaired teens from three area high schools gathered for a prom like no other - a night out at a Rolling Meadows banquet hall, with dinner and a DJ just for them.

Dressed to the nines, they dined and chatted and swayed like professionals, dancing all night in a carefree blur of tuxedos and strappy satin gowns.

They'd practiced for months.

But you just can't rehearse having the time of your life.

"They are just beside themselves. They're so excited," said Nancy Wisniewski, a special education teacher at Wheeling High. "As soon as that music starts, they're on the dance floor and they don't leave until the prom is over."

Students in special education programs at Hoffman Estates, Palatine and Wheeling highs attended the prom - a nearly 20-year- old spring tradition.

The activity got its start as a pre-prom event after some special education students reported feeling out of place at a traditional school prom. Some students still use it as a warm-up for their school's own prom; most, though, treat it as their only coveted night out.

It costs $25 a ticket, and the parents often even set up post- prom parties - sometimes at Bakers Square for a late-night dessert and coffee.

"It just kept getting bigger and bigger and better and better, and now we just won't give it up," Palatine High teacher Christy Fredrick said. …

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