Peers in Learning host fourth annual Special Populations Prom

Students from area high schools joined in on the dance which was held on Friday, March 22


Dancing to “Cha Cha Slide” by DJ Casper, junior Kaitlyn Gowin, sophomore Rylee Fouts, sophomore Taylor Bruce and senior Ethan Males enjoy one of the many activities at the Special Populations Prom

Elizabeth Joseph, Mill Valley News editor-in-chief

Smiles and laughs echoed throughout the Auxiliary Gym as students from Bonner High School, Lansing High School, Eudora High School and Tonganoxie High School celebrated the 2019 Special Populations Prom on Friday, March 22. Along with the dance, games such as “UNO,” Bowling, “Trashketball,” nail painting and coloring were available, as well as snacks and refreshments.

The dance was Hollywood-themed, a change from years past, according to senior event chair Josie Hayes.

“Last year and previous years, they had done Valentine’s Day themed proms, but this year, since it’s a little late, we couldn’t do that,” Hayes said. “We had to come up with a new theme, and we did Hollywood, which required a lot of new decorations and stuff. We got decorations from [StuCo sponsor Erica] Crist, old proms and stuff. Everything else was pretty much the same.”

Because students from all around the area attend, junior Sidney Vomhof feels that students get to have new experiences and connect with new people.

“This one is unique because they’re with other schools because they see the same people every day, but with this one they’re seeing people who they’ve never met before,” Vomhof said. “It’s just a great way to connect and reconnect with certain people that they don’t see on a daily basis.”

During the Special Populations Prom on Friday, March 22, senior Sydney Walkup puts a tattoo on freshman Hannah Hunter.

All of the activities and the people make the event highly anticipated, according to Hayes.

“The students look forward to it so much and they all love music and games, so this is one of their favorite events of the year,” Hayes said. “In August, they’re already talking about prom and stuff. They just really enjoy it.”

According to special services teacher Sara Evans, the prom offers high school experiences to the special education students because they are more universally accessible.

“A dance is typically an after school activity and a lot of our students don’t get to go, because they don’t have their teachers there or things like that,” Evans said. “When we’re here at school, they get to experience things like dances or playing games with their typical peers and special education peers alike.”

Because of that approach to the prom, Vomhof emphasizes the value it has to the students.

“To some people, it may not seem like the biggest thing, but to them it’s amazing, it’s their prom. It’s set up for them. We chose things to make sure they’re happy,” Vomhof said. “I love working with them in school, and I think it’s great how we have different schools come around. We’re getting to meet a lot more people.”

Seeing the planning and work pay off was very satisfying for Vomhof.

During a game of UNO at the Special Populations Prom on Friday, March 22, senior Ryan Walker smiles at senior Jake Ashford.

“Just going out and dancing with them and seeing them smile is such a good feeling that I didn’t want it to stop,” Vomhof said. “You could tell they were having fun. It wasn’t like a crazy thing, they were dancing, they were all talking. It’s just a feeling of accomplishment and of community and of being together.”


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