Community creates 'Sea of Love' prom
West County freshman (left to right) Krystal King and Janette Wells of Irondale and Alicia Politte of Leadwood go through dresses donated for Saturday’s special prom. - Paula Barr

When more than 100 teenagers enter the “Sea of Love” prom Saturday night at West County High School, they will enjoy an evening made special through the love and support of the community.

Saturday marks the first of what West County hopes will be an annual prom for Missouri youth with special needs. After several students traveled to Jefferson City last year to participate in a similar event, the students, parents and teachers asked the district to hold its own prom.

The event has become a community effort.

Earlier this year, special needs teacher Lila Barnett, business teacher Angie Black and Janet Lashley, the district's director of special services, began planning the prom. They had only $194 to pull it off, and they wanted it to be free for the students. Obviously, outside help would be needed.

They asked, and people answered.

District cook Barb Briley found donors for the food and offered her services to prepare a mostaccioli meal before the dance. The High School offered to leave the decorations up from the traditional prom so the special needs prom organizers would not need new ones.

Students volunteered to do the girls’ makeup and hair Saturday afternoon. Cinderella’s Bridal Shop in Farmington donated 20 prom dresses and The Bridal Garden in De Soto said girls who found dresses they like in the clearance rack could have them free.

Hastings Creative Images in Farmington donated its services and will provide each participant with a free 4 x 6 photo.

Invitations went to 95 school districts in southeastern and south central Missouri. As of Thursday, officials from Farmington, North County, Potosi, Kingston, Valley R-6, Hayti and Cape Central school districts planned to bring students.

“Six to seven Potosi teachers, the principal and the bus driver plan to attend,” said Black, who plans to wear formal dress for the event. “They want to see their kids have a good time.”

Students are looking forward to the event. Some will bring dates, but most will attend alone.

“I’m a little nervous,” said Alicia Politte of Leadwood as she looked through the gowns on Thursday. “But I am looking forward to meeting new people!”

Festivities begin at 5 p.m. with photos and dinner, followed by the dance from 6-10 p.m. Refreshments will be served during the dance.

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