Special needs students at Fort Dodge Senior High were honored Friday with the school’s first prom court.
The nine seniors participated in the coronation to the applause of their schoolmates. The event, coordinated entirely by student leaders, is a first for FDSH.
“Today testifies to the wonderful kids that we have,” Dave Keane, FDSH principal, said. “This was all the kids’ idea, it was all organized by the students and it was produced by the students. It’s kind of nice to see that they’re doing quality things. We’ve got some remarkable kids. I’m very proud of them.”
Honored Friday were Michael Hanrahan, Ada Kelley, Jeremy Wildt, Sara Boitnott, Wolfgang Dillingham, Ashley Plain, Zachary Williams, Morgan Wells and David Hollers. Each was crowned.
Jenae Kennedy, Dodger Senate advisor, supervised the students in planning and staging the ceremony.
“We normally don’t have a prom coronation, we just have one for homecoming, so we decided to honor our special education students, the ones who are graduating this year,” she said. “We have five boys and four girls.”
The special needs students were assisted in preparing for the day, Kennedy said.
“All of the last couple of weeks we pampered them,” she said. “The girls got to pick out their dresses, the boys got to wear tuxes. We got them flowers, we got them crowns and corsages and boutonnieres. The girls got their hair done. And then we honored them at a real special assembly today.”
The court of nine was greeted by a Parisian-themed assembly. The lights were dimmed and each was presented to their schoolmates.
“We got the gym all jazzed up for them and really gave them a special time to be in the spotlight, in front of our entire school and community,” Kennedy said. “It was real cool.”
The students came to the center of the gym, surrounded by lights and gold and blue balloons, before ascending to the stage.
“They greeted either side of the bleachers, where they got their own a round of applause,” Kennedy said. “And then we read biographies about each of them so the school could learn more about them.”
Those attending the coronation cheered their fellow schoolmates, according to Kennedy.
“I think that the kids in the crowd were touched, as much as the kids who participated,” she said.
The program was put together entirely by the school’s student leaders. Serving as masters of ceremonies were Morgan Bowman, Karlee Frein, Ashton Pederson and Shelby Portz.
“It was thought up by students, planned out and organized by students. They picked out their own decorations,” Kennedy said. “We stayed in the gym last night until 11 decorating. We’re going to tear it all down and decorate for the prom. These are the same kids who are going to be busy all weekend.”
Shelby Portz, one of the student leaders, said she was happy to be a part of creating the event for her fellow students.
“It’s really awesome. It was a great experience,” she said. “A lot of preparation, but it was well worth it.”
According to Portz, the idea was initially brought to the student Senate.
“After that, we thought about how awesome it could be and it escalated from there,” she said. “This is our first year having prom court, so rather than focusing on all of the students we decided these kids have been here for more years than we have, so let’s give them some special attention.”
Kennedy said she was proud of her students.
“They are phenomenal kids,” she said. “I’m so lucky to work with them.”