Buses from at least nine surrounding counties were lined up in front of Thomas County Central High School gymnasium on Friday morning.
Central students, past students, community members and other counties’ students all piled inside to bust a move at the seventh annual Special Education Valentine’s Day Dance.
The dance had a Mardi Gras theme. Students sported all types of masks consisting of feathers and glitter. Green and purple balloons lined the entrance to the gym.
Alma Simmons, a Central parapro, was put in charge of the event seven years ago and has enjoyed seeing the smiling faces of the students and volunteers.
She said, “This is all the kids talk about. This is their day. We’ve had so many people volunteers and businesses help this year.”
Small Cakes, Chick-fil-a, Maryland Fried Chicken and Flowers Baking Company were among the businesses that contributed food.
DJs On the Go kept the students dancing from 9:30 a.m. until noon with upbeat music.
Other volunteers for the event came from Central’s staff and organizations.
The event began with the motivation that special education students should be able to experience prom and homecoming just like other students. It is held early in the morning so students will have access to bus transportation.
Kristen Heatter, a senior at Central and a member of the National Honor Society and Key Club, said, “It’s a wonderful thing to see surrounding counties come to the event. They get to experience the things other kids get to experience with prom and homecoming on this day. It’s heartwarming and hard to have a bad day in this atmosphere.”
Nick Casey, a senior at Central, has attended the dance for the past seven years. He and the other students anticipate the event each year.
He said, “I like dancing. It’s fun to come to the dance each year with my friends and dance.”
Initially, only Thomas County and Thomasville City students were invited. Today, the invitation has extended to nine counties. More than 350 students from Thomas County, Thomasville City, Pelham City, Grady County, Decatur County, Lanier County, Colquitt County, Brooks County and Mitchell County were present. Also the Thomas/Grady Center was invited.
Reporter Susanne Reynolds can be reached at (229) 226-2400, ext. 1826.