SHERBURNE – Friday started the prom season for Sherburne-Earlville High School with a Mardi Gras themed special programs prom, which included the BOCES district. The prom was held from 7-10 p.m. in the high school cafeteria.
“It's different than the junior prom,” explained organizer Dawn Dando. “It includes the whole BOCES district,” she said. And this year, it included Sidney and Afton as well.
This is the ninth year that S-E has hosted the prom and Dando estimated there were approximately 45 attendees. She explained that the prom was originally her idea and was an event she used to coordinate while working for BOCES 12 years ago.
“This prom is extremely important to all that attend because it gives them the opportunity to attend a prom without all the social barriers that come with the disabilities,” said Dando.
She has received a great deal of support and donations from the local community and neighboring businesses. The cafeteria was decorated with large Mardi Gras masks, streamers and glittering ornaments that hung from the ceiling. Upon first entering, there was also a line of students waiting to have their picture taken.
“It's my first time – I've never been and I'm so excited,” said attendee Sydney Bennett. “I love the theme.”
When asked what she thought of the prom and Dando's efforts, Shelby Bennett, who also attended the prom, said, “(The prom) definitely has a way of making them feel normal and special like everyone else. She (Dando) is a life changer.”
Prior to the prom, Pam Zeno, a special education teacher for BOCES, explained that her students were very excited about the event.
“We do participate every year and they are excited. They look forward to it,” she said. “It's a great opportunity for our students and I'm glad that our students are invited and can participate.”
Zeno explained that she and the other teachers and aides helped the students prepare for the prom by ensuring the girls got manicures and pedicures. The staff brought in anything that the students didn't have. One main expense that was alleviated was prom dresses for the female students, which were provided by S-E’s “Prom Closet.”