The Life Skills Club hosted Prom with a carnival theme for the Life Skills students at Hamburg Area High School on March 23.
“It’s good. I like it. Eating, drinking and dancing,” said Life Skills student Austin Keim, grade 11, age 17.
Life Skills student Ben MacBeth, grade 12, age 19, enjoyed dancing at Prom. He even got into the spirit of Michael Jackson wearing sunglasses and doing a few Michael Jackson moves. “I like it. I like the food... No classes to go to. Hang out with friends and dance.”
There are 13 Life Skills students this year, grade 9 to 12. They all have a documented disability and receive special education services.
“They deserve to have a fun time together and it’s nice to see everyone come together in the school,” said Life Skills support teacher Alyssa Fink. “We hold Prom every two years. It’s just a time for the students to enjoy themselves. This year it’s a carnival theme so we even have games.”
Parents, teachers, administrators and Life Skills Club members joined in the fun, dancing and posing for photos, making animal balloons. There was a variety of snacks and sweets, even cotton candy.
“It’s just a good time for everyone to get together and enjoy themselves and take a little break,” said Fink. “The Life Skills Club members did a lot of the planning and decorating for it.”
There are about 80 regular education students who are members of the Life Skills Club who plan different events throughout the year, including Prom, as well as fundraisers for charity such as Autism Awareness.
“They come in during their study halls and work with our students on school work or lead a class activity or play games or just hang out,” said Fink. “There are a ton of benefits for regular education students because they get to see how challenging it is for other people when things don’t come as easily for them. It’s positive for everyone. Everyone benefits from it.”
Fink explained that the purpose of the Prom is to offer the Life Skills students an opportunity to have fun and interact with regular education students.
“We really work hard all year for them to do well in their academics so it’s a nice little break for them,” said Fink.
Joining in the fun were Life Skills Club members (regular education students) sisters Erin and Tara Maloney (club secretary) and Paige Behm.
Tara got them out dancing on the dance floor.
“I’m very outgoing and I volunteer with the Life Skills kids every 3rd period and 8th period,” said Tara, who plans to study special education at Kutztown University next year. “I just love the kids and they love me. I connect with them really well.”
Behm enjoyed seeing the happiness and excitement of the Life Skills students.
“Seeing everyone smile,” said Behm.
Tara hopes that the Life Skills students gain more than a good time on the dance floor.
“That (they see) they’re just like everyone else. They’re happy just being themselves,” said Tara.