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New Kent High hosts prom for students with special needs: ‘I’ve been to other proms but this one, I loved it’

NEW KENT, Va. -- Monday afternoon was a day some students at New Kent High School will never forget, as the school hosted its first ever "Moment to Shine" prom for students with special needs.

"It was an amazing magical night," student Mackenzie Salzer said. "I had like a pink dress with gold and silver on it."

"I've been to other proms but this one, I loved it," student Jacob Bennette said.  "We're really close with them. I think like they're our friends now and we're closer to them than we were."

The idea started with New Kent High School Senior Lexi Mills, who has been working on programs with special needs students for years. She presented the idea New Kent High School's Renaissance Club.

"Behind Renaissance we just want everybody to be included and feel as one. We don't want anybody to feel left out," said Kenzie Verlander. "We have the regular prom and everybody is welcome there too but we wanted a time for them to shine and have their special moment."

"I thought that, that would be the perfect club to bring a plan like this together," Mills said.

And the plan worked.

"It took about five to six months to plan and we wanted to make sure we hit every detail," Katelyn Gray said.

Those details included pictures by a limousine, a red carpet and lots of dancing.

"We got some of their favorite songs and we put that on the playlist," said Gray. "The Cha Cha slide and the cupid shuffle," added Bennette.

"Just seeing the smiles on their faces just light up. The glow, the illumination of it all, it meant the world," Mills said.

It's a glowing night they'll remember for the rest of their life.

"My favorite part was to dance with my girlfriend," said Nate Smith. "I had a really good time at the prom."

"Every single person whether they have special needs or not, deserves to feel loved, appreciated, and enjoy their own shining moment," Mills said.

The students and school hope to make the prom a yearly tradition for years to come.

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