Mariner to host special prom for students

By Sara Bruestle | Apr 18, 2012
Photo by: Sara Bruestle Mariner High School senior Gabe Dye and junior Brenda Carbajal trace the letters of the word "smile" for a poster the Leadership class is making as a wall decoration for the Special Needs Prom the students are hosting on April 20.

Special-needs students at Mariner High School are attending their very own prom this week.

Mariner’s Leadership class is hosting a Special Needs Prom on April 20 for students at the high school. For many, it will be their first school dance.

Students invited to the dance are taking Mariner’s Life Skills class, which teaches communication skills, social skills, and how to take care of themselves. About 30 students have RSVP’d to the dance, many of them seniors.

“I think it’s amazing,” said Life Skills teacher Kim Perisho. “One of the things I love about Mariner is, because it’s a multicultural school, students are very easily incorporated into student life and the community here.”

“Mariner is a great place for students with special needs.”

About 20 Leadership students will serve as hosts, dance partners and disc jockeys at the first-ever Special Needs Prom. They’ll serve refreshments, take prom photos and song requests.

They are decorating with the theme “Starry, Starry Night,” which was voted on by the special-needs students. Even the invitations follow the theme.

“It will always be something that they’ll remember, something that is just for them,” said Senior Class President Gabe Dye. “I think the best part is that we get to witness that. I just think it will be a neat moment.”

Prior to prom, several Leadership girls will take the Life Skills girls into a dressing room for a Day of Beauty – they’ll be doing hair, makeup, nails and picking their prom dresses, which were donated by other students.

“We’re getting them ready for the dance, doing their hair and makeup so they don’t have to stress about that,” said junior Brenda Carbajal, chair of the Day of Beauty Committee.

“They’re really excited. I talked to one of them, and I asked her what she wanted her hair like, and she had it all planned out.”

The students will also get their own corsages and boutonnieres for their special night.

The Leadership class is hosting the prom with the goal of promoting an inclusive student body. Many Leadership students also sit with the special-needs students at lunch, walk with them in the halls or pop into their classroom to say “Hi.”

“What we were trying to achieve is not only giving them a prom, but also bonding the leadership students and the special needs students,” said senior and ASB Co-President Brijonnay Madrigal.

“We weren’t really co-existing, so we want to recognize them and make them feel important.”

Gabe said he’s already seen a difference in how the Life Skills students interact with other students. Before he started sitting with them at lunch, they usually kept to themselves, but now he said they seem to know and talk to everybody at school.

“They are very accepting and encouraging,” Perisho said. “It’s just good for everybody.”

The class borrowed the prom idea from Marysville-Pilchuck High School, got permission from teachers, and started planning. Perisho approved all of their plans, making sure that the dance caters to her students.

Perisho said a lot the Life Skills students don’t go to school dances because they are too crowded, too loud and go too late, and that a lot of times, logistically, it’s better if they just stay home.

“I think it’s admirable,” said Leadership adviser Nick Angelos. “The kids at Mariner, they’re about diversity. This is really a school where the kids accept people for who they are.

“They don’t judge them. I think it’s part of what makes Mariner a great place.”

The students aren’t required to have a date for prom – but some of them do.

Gabe is going as senior Dejavette Simpson’s date. Dejavette asked him during lunch, matter-of-factly: “You’re going with me to prom, right?” She said she was blushing the whole time.

She already has her dress: It’s a red and black number with flowers. She said she is looking forward to getting her hair done. She wants a curly up-do.

“I’m super excited,” Dejavette said. “I’ll get to spend some time with my friends and dance with them.”

Sophomore Donald Kim is also pumped. He plans to wear nice pants and shirt and one of his dad’s ties. He said he’ll probably muster up the courage to ask a few girls to dance.

Life Skills student DeLana Fitzpatrick, also a sophomore, already has her dress, too: Hers is black and white and has a bow. She has black high heels to wear with it.

“I’m excited to get out of my house,” DeLana said. “No brother and no video games.”

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