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OAISD students dance 'Under the Stars'

Krystle Wagner • May 12, 2018 at 12:00 PM

About 100 students and volunteers participated in a prom organized by three Western Michigan Christian High School seniors for the Young Adult Services students in the Ottawa Area Intermediate School District.

The “Under the Stars”-themed prom was held in the Grand Haven Christian School gymnasium on May 5.

The OAISD’s Young Adult Services program serves residents ages 18-26 who qualify for special education.

Catherine Bradford-Royle, 18; Jared Hanes, 17; and Hannah Nestell, 18, began planning the event last fall as their senior service project at WMC. Terry Goldberg, a teacher consultant with OAISD’s Young Adult Services, met with the group when they first started planning. Given their level of enthusiasm, Goldberg said he knew they would be successful.

Goldberg said it had been a few years since Young Adult Services had a prom.

In planning the event, the WMC students took into consideration such things as food allergies, the music volume and the lighting on the dance floor. They provided two quiet rooms for those who needed a space if they became over-stimulated. The rooms included chairs, games and puzzles.

Parents also had their own room to relax and enjoy refreshments, if they wanted to remain nearby.

Prom-goers had food from Chick-fil-A and a sundae bar, with popsicles as an alternative. They also received a carnation at the end of the evening.

To fund the evening, Bradford-Royle, Hanes and Nestell wrote letters to families, friends and businesses. Overall, they raised more than $2,000.

“It’s such a blessing to see,” Nestell said of the community’s generosity.

Fellow WMC students and parents volunteered to dance and serve food throughout the evening. Senior Tyler Van Beek served as the DJ and junior Tyler Somers captured the evening as the photographer.

Hanes said he enjoyed the evening more than his school’s prom.

Nestell said she wasn’t prepared for the emotions she felt seeing the OAISD students’ joy as they met up with friends and enjoyed the evening.

Bradford-Royle said she hopes the students felt like adults and gained pride in themselves by attending the prom.

Since returning to school this week, the OAISD students have been talking about the night, Goldberg said.

“They had a wonderful time,” he said.

Hanes said they plan to pass the project and funds on to another group to organize a prom for the OAISD Young Adult Services students next year.

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