February 28, 2017
More than 60 persons with special needs were paired up with student dates from St. John Paul II High School and Bishop Garriga Middle Preparatory School at the Special Hearts Prom on Feb. 26 at St. John Paul High School Campus.
Now in its fifth year the Special Hearts Prom at St. John Paul II High School is organized by Voices That Care, a club created by teacher and coordinator Sherri Davis.
The program has always been a popular event for both students and those with disabilities. Up from previous years 67 persons with special needs pre-registered for the event, but about five were unable to make it.
According to Celia Mendez, Catholic Chairites director of Ministry and Life Enrichment for Persons with Disabilities, one of the students was disappointed when her date did not show, but all the students participated and shared their dates with each other.
The families of persons with disabilities provided the meal and ate in the foyer of the Cafetorium to allow room for the dates to dine and dance. Some students from Bishop Garriga Middle Preparatory School were recruited to be dates so everyone could be paired up.
"The students love doing this," said St. John Paul II development director, Laura Okoniewski. "They [the students] always have a valentines dance the night before the Special Hearts Prom, but more students would rather attend the prom than their own dance."
"Families were interviewed and they talked about how grateful they were. They are always impressed with how the students interact with those with special needs. You can tell they [the students] love what they do," Mendez said.
A Mass preceded the prom.