Common misconception dispelled, students come together for school dance

April 12, 2016

As a parent, your number one desire is to see your child happy. As a parent of a child with special needs, seeing your child in an inclusive environment does just that.

On Saturday, Coppell High School student council hosted an annual event that serves as an exciting evening for those with special needs to socialize and celebrate the end of the school year, and as a night off for parents to enjoy to themselves. Just as the football team holds a banquet every year to celebrate a season together, those who receive special education come together for a celebration as well.

“Wouldn’t it be nice, just like choir has a banquet, and band has a banquet, we have a banquet for Circle of Friends?” CHS special education active learning teacher Eileen Higgins said.

This year’s banquet was themed spring fling luau and was held at New Tech High [email protected] It is important to note that the event is not labeled as prom.

Contrary to popular belief, Coppell Independent School District does not hold a separate prom for those in the district who receive special education. CHS is a welcoming, inclusive environment for all students, and hosting a prom separate from the school’s prom on April 23 would go against what our school believes in.

“We don’t call it prom because every single kid in our school is eligible to go to prom,” Higgins said.  “We have one prom. We are one school, and we are one family. We don’t want it separated.”

CHS prom opens its doors to all students, and will make any necessary adaptations for students that may need it.

“We would make every effort to accommodate to our students because we want everyone feeling like they certainly have the right to go, and to be comfortable going” CHS Principal Mike Jasso said. “Some people may refer to it as prom, but it’s really a banquet to celebrate our kids and all of the great things they have accomplished over the year.”

As one of the few formal evening events held for students in special education classes, this night is exciting for students attending.

For CHS junior Ashton Williams, this is her third year going, and her mother Stephanie Williams was almost just as excited as her daughter.

“It is an opportunity for her [Ashton] to feel in with the crowd and have a night out with her peers, and that makes it special,” Mrs. Williams said. “And besides that, she loves to get dressed up.”

Ashton spent Saturday afternoon getting her nails and hair done, and going out to dinner with her peers before the banquet.

Coppell High School junior Ashton WIlliams has her hair done by her mother on Saturday in her home. Williams attended the CHS Spring Fling banquet, an evening celebrating the accomplishments of students who receive special education in the district. Photo by Mallorie Munoz
Coppell High School junior Ashton WIlliams has her hair done by her mother on Saturday in her home. Williams attended the CHS Spring Fling banquet, an evening celebrating the accomplishments of students who receive special education in the district. Photo by Mallorie Munoz

Once arriving to the event, despite the rain-soaked banner hanging over the entrance reading “Welcome to Prom”, the atmosphere felt much more like a banquet or casual school dance than it did a prom.

Coppell High School student council hosts the annual banquet on Saturday at New Tech High@Coppell for students at CHS who receive special education. The banquet, commonly mistaken as prom, is held to celebrate the accomplishments of the students at CHS. Photo by Mallorie Munoz.
Coppell High School student council hosts the annual banquet on Saturday at New Tech [email protected] for students at CHS who receive special education. The banquet, commonly mistaken as prom, is held to celebrate the accomplishments of the students at CHS. Photo by Mallorie Munoz.

That being said, no matter what the event is referred to, the gym of New Tech was a host to nothing less than grins and laughter. The energy in the room is incomparable to that of any other school hosted event. Students in special education classes and those who are not saw past any differences and barriers and simply danced the evening away.

“It is one of the things that makes this school so special. I couldn’t work anywhere else, because they are so warm and inviting here,” Higgins said.

CHS houses a very special population of students, and evenings like Saturday serve as proof that we truly are one school and one family.

 

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