‘Buddy Prom’ at Pinelands Regional High School Attracts Heroes

May 30, 2018
Supplied Photo

Pinelands Regional High School’s senior prom was held this past weekend. but there was another prom at the school the weekend before, and it turned into a super night in more ways than one.

On Saturday, May 19, a “Buddy Prom” was held at the school for students with significant cognitive challenges, most of whom were enrolled in the Pinelands multiple disabilities and autism programs.

“Unfortunately,” said Ellen Ward, director of special education for the Pinelands Regional School District, “these students oftentimes do not have the same life opportunities as their peers without disabilities, and this includes going to prom.”

There was a need, and according to Ward, the community quickly stepped in to meet it. Donations, she said, flooded in from area restaurants and businesses including Acme Market, Cuisine on the Green, Dunkin’ Donuts, the Grapevine, Jersey Mike’s, the Olive Garden, Party Fair, Portofino’s, McDonald’s, Sea Oaks, ShopRite, Taco Bell and Wawa (on Route 539), which all donated food and balloons to make the event very memorable. The biggest donation, though, may have come from DJ Sal Mattina, who kept everybody up and dancing all night.

General education students and Interact Clubs at both the high school and junior high helped plan the event. There were balloons everywhere, piñatas to smash, and games to play when tired kids needed a break from dancing.

The theme of the Buddy Prom was “Super Heroes,” with Superman, Captain America and Supergirl attending. But according to Ward, “The real heroes of the evening were Amanda Traina, junior high school Interact Club adviser, Tracy Rosario, teacher in the junior high MD program, Melissa Mickiewicz, case manager, as well as all the wonderful student volunteers who planned the event and took time out of their Saturday to make this a special evening for Pinelands’ students in the MD and autism programs.” —R.M.

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