COVINGTON, Ga. - It’s Prom Season!
One of the most memorable moments of a high schooler’s life is prom. In the next few months, all our local Newton County High Schools will hold proms. They anticipate getting the perfect dress or tux, having their hair styled and nails manicured. They look forward to riding in a limo, having prom pictures taken, and deciding who to go with and where to have dinner. These conversations consume high school students around this time of year.
In Newton County Schools, 200 special needs students go to school each day in self-contained classrooms. While many special needs student are able to participate in their high school proms and other dances, some students cannot attend for various reasons. All students, regardless of abilities, want to have the experience of attending a high school prom created where they can enjoy dancing and laughing with friends.
On March 15, this dream will have become a reality.
Covington First UMC has partnered with Newton County Schools’ Special Education Department to host a prom for our Special Needs Students here in Newton County. This partnership began last year after Covington First UMC Youth Director, Kim Pitts and some of her youth group volunteered to be Prom Buddies at the Special Needs Prom in Rockdale County. After they left that prom, they were so overwhelmed by that wonderful experience, they began to ask the question, “Why can’t we host a Special Needs Prom in Newton County?” After discussion with Dr. Doug Gilreath, Senior Pastor of Covington First UMC about this proposal, Kim made calls to Brooke Ramsey, NCSS Director of Special Education and Jessica Adams, NCSS Lead Teacher for Compliance. From the initial meetings of Covington First Staff and NCSS Special Education Leadership Team, excitement grew, and they began planning for this special “Night to Remember” for the “Stars” of Newton County, and the rest is history.
“A Night to Remember” will be Friday, March 15. Our “Stars” for the night will arrive at Covington First UMC to receive their corsages and boutonnieres which have been graciously donated by Sherwood’s Flowers. They will then be paired with a youth buddy who will escort them through the evening, making sure they have a wonderful time. These buddies are students from the local middle and high schools who are volunteering to help ensure the “Stars” have a wonderful evening of dancing, and enjoying great food, music, laughter and friends. Each “Star” and youth buddy will ride by limo around the downtown square and exit the limo on the red carpet at the Reserve @ Hendricks on the downtown square, the entrance to the prom venue. Parents will be waiting to cheer on their “Star” and take photos as they arrive, are announced and enter the prom. Tom Hanson, who has DJ’d for Tim Tebow’s “A Night to Shine” Proms, has volunteered his time, equipment, and talent so students can the dance the night away.
Once at the prom, our “Stars” will have prom photos made by Bethany Corvos before they hit the dance floor. During the evening, they will enjoy an amazing buffet provided by local restaurants, caterers and individuals: Bread and Butter Bakery, Your Pie, Plain Nuts, Mystic Grill, Chick-Fil-A, Jennifer Morganthall, Pamm Dugan, Katie Carlock, Angie Kelly and Michelle Cole.
While our “Stars” are enjoying their evening, their parents will be hosted for a “Night In” at Covington First UMC Fellowship Hall for a seated dinner provided by Covington First UMC. As a special treat, music will be graciously performed by Mack McKibben of McKibben Music and Drive-Time Band.
“A Night to Remember” Prom has been fully funded by the generosity of so many generous donors in our community. The first donations came from those that attended “O Come Y’all To Covington,” the Christmas performance written, directed and performed by Mack McKibben and friends. This Christmas performance is presented each Christmas holiday season for free admission, and an offering is received for a specific mission. This past Christmas (2018), proceeds were designated to support the Special Needs Prom. Donations were also received from generous individuals and from the Missions Committee of Covington First UMC. Many prom dresses and men’s suits have been donated from individuals throughout the community. Each of the “Stars” will be offered the opportunity to come and select a special outfit for their special night.
Truly, it takes a village to put on an event of this size. Covington First UMC volunteers have spent hours assisting in the preparation for this special night. Newton County Special Education teachers, paraprofessionals, individuals from Covington First UMC, community volunteers and youth have volunteered to spend their evening in making this night a success. From the moment our prom “Stars” and parents drive into the parking lot, to the clean-up of the event, we want to ensure that the parents and prom “Stars” have an amazing night to remember. We appreciate all the amazing volunteers without whom this night would not be possible, and who are the reason this night will be a huge success for Newton County.
Our deepest thanks and appreciation for all who have contributed, supported and prayed for this dream to become a reality. It is amazing what can happen when a community comes together to share in a common dream and vision and to work toward that dream together.