A “by-invitation-only” formal prom, “Night to Dream,” is being held from 6-9 p.m. Friday evening at Farmington’s Centene Center.
Students from area schools that qualify to participate in the Special Olympics have been invited to attend the event that has been planned especially for them. The “Dream Night Prom Experience” has been organized by New Heights Church, along with the Farmington and North County school districts.
New Heights Church Pastor Rocky Good has been spending a large amount of time coordinating the event.
“When I was in college, I worked at a camp for the handicapped,” he said. “I have been involved with this population in different ways. They’ve been a part of my life since childhood.
“We’ve invited 14 different schools to participate in the whole region. Our strategy is for each of the schools to provide a ‘buddy’ — somebody from their school to come be their buddy for the evening.
“We’ve invited parents. We are going to have a respite room for them and offer them a meal. Bus drivers and school teachers have been invited. They can go to the respite room to have a meal. We have staff here at the high school that is preparing a nice meal for them.”
Farmington High School’s library media specialist, Kristi Scott, has provided the organizational leadership needed for the school district’s staff and students to set up the prom.
“We have some BKTV and yearbook students that will be taking pictures and filming all night,” she said. “I tasked them with making us a promo video. When school starts next year, we will start rolling that out.”
Dawn Eaton, director of special services for the North County School District, has contacted and worked with special service directors in the other participating school districts.
Scott mentioned that the civic center gymnasium will be closed Friday and both the pool and walking path will close early to facilitate preparation for the event.
According to Good, there is a team from New Heights Church working on the party. He has nothing but praise for everyone involved. A large contingent of volunteers will be setting up throughout the day leading up to the event.
Good stressed that all of the volunteers will have undergone background checks to maintain safety during the event.
“Some of our team have gone all out to decorate the lobby at the Centene Center,” he said. “The entrance will have big signs that say ‘Let’s Dance!’ The student population here has been tremendous. The staff at the different schools have donated over $1,000 cash for the expenses.”
Dress 2 Impress is assisting with dresses, jackets and other clothing as necessary. Caterers from several local restaurants will be providing meals for the evening. Volunteers will be on hand to serve as hairdressers, makeup artists, and nailists for the young ladies, as well as others who will be making sure that the young men’s shoes are shined and their ties are put on straight.
Good mentioned several of the special activities available for those attending the prom.
“We are going to have two stretch limos if they want to take a ride with their buddy,” he said. “We have a tent for them to dance under. A DJ coming down from St. Louis is very excited — he gave us a tremendous discount.”
While the young ladies are getting spruced up for the evening, Good doesn’t want the other participants to be waiting around with nothing to do, so magician D.J. Edwards will perform while the “stars” of the prom are having their hair and nails done.
Scott explained how the boys and girls will enter the building.
“After they get done doing the hair and makeup, the next station is they get to pick out a crown. There are four kinds to pick from. They will then walk down a red carpet and get crowned. Their name will be announced and they will have a boutonniere and corsage.”
According to Scott, the Farmington FFA Chapter wrote a grant for the flowers and the floral design class is making all of the boutonnieres and corsages.
Good added, “We have a wonderful 8 by 8 backdrop for them to have their pictures taken in front of on the red carpet. We want each of the girls to feel like they are the belle of the ball and the young men to feel like they are the prince of their dreams. We will have paparazzi. People will be cheering them and watching them walking down the red carpet.”
The MAC basketball team, local law enforcement, and Farmington High School’s JROTC will all be on hand and in uniform to assist where needed. Scott mentioned that due to some of the participants having medical issues, an EMT crew and ambulance will be on-site during the event.
Four local photographers have donated their time and resources for the event and the DJ is supplying a photo booth with props. A local business is providing balloons, and a balloon artist will be on hand to make crowns, hats and animals. Each of the participants will receive a gift bag loaded with items that they can take home after the prom has concluded.
Other stations will be made available where the celebrants can go to if the noise becomes too loud.
“There will be a quiet room,” Scott said. “There will be a sensory room where they can play with Play-Doh or color.”
Good, who estimates that about 50 have signed up to attend the event, expressed his appreciation for the many generous community members who are making the evening possible.
“The civic organizations, groups of people, the businesses — we couldn’t do this without the support of everybody,” he said. “It’s phenomenal. The city of Farmington has also been great in cooperating with this.”
“The civic organizations, groups of people, the businesses — we couldn’t do this without the support of everybody,” he said. “It’s phenomenal. The city of Farmington has also been great in cooperating with this.” – Pastor Rocky Good, co-planner
Mark Marberry is a reporter for the Farmington Press and Daily Journal. He can be reached at 573-518-3629, or at firstname.lastname@example.org