Northwest News

Special prom for Mount Tahoma students

The music was pumping, bodies were gyrating and there was no shortage of smiles.

About 50 Mount Tahoma students packed into a darkened classroom late Thursday morning for the 6th annual “Once Upon a Prom.” for special-needs students.

It’s not always apparent who’s who, and teacher Ashley Gregg likes it that way.

“Parents were asking me which students were special needs and which weren’t,” said Gregg. “That’s the nice thing, they work so well together. It’s inclusive, there is no separation.”

Gregg said special needs students are welcome at the school’s regular prom but the sights and sounds of that event can often cause sensory overload. The Associated Student Body leadership class hosts this prom as an alternative.

“We have some kids that go but it can be a little too much stimuli,” Gregg said. “Here we have more control so it’s really nice.”

Some special needs students don’t attend traditional prom because of nerves, or because their parents are concerned about acceptance, said special-needs teacher Sally Brawley. That wasn’t the case Tuesday, as dozens of Mount Tahoma students lined the hallways to cheer the attendees as they made their way to a room decorated with twinkling lights and a makeshift forest setting to convey the theme “A Dance in the Enchanted Forest.”

“It was pretty awesome. For some it’s their first prom,” said Brawley, who pushed some students to the dance in their wheelchairs. “I almost cried but I held it together because I was pushing kids along the way,” said Brawley.

“It’s about being accepted, being part of the Mount Tahoma community. That’s what it’s all about.”