AHS 'Unified Prom' debuts May 30

ARLINGTON — The Arlington High School Respect Team and National Honor Society Chapter will be hosting the school's first "Unified Prom" on Friday, May 30, from 12:30-2:30 p.m. in the lobby of the Byrnes Performing Arts Center.

"The Unified Prom takes its inspiration from the Special Olympics Project UNIFY, a school-based program that uses sports and leadership programs to spur young people to develop school communities where all youth are agents of change, fostering respect, dignity and advocacy for people with intellectual disabilities," said Dana Strickland, service learning and Respect Team advisor for AHS.

"Typically developing students are an integral piece of the Project UNIFY model," she added. "Project UNIFY is designed to change perspectives, enhance relationships, and boost acceptance among students with and without intellectual disabilities."

The prom's theme is "Under the Sea," and its goal is to provide as close to a traditional prom experience as possible for special education students, who might not be able to attend the regular AHS prom due to issues with supervision and transportation, as well as costs and other concerns.

"We will have pictures, music, dancing, food, drinks, desserts and, yes, beautiful dresses," Strickland said. "The key to a Unified Prom is the partnership between the typically developing and special education students. Everyone will be dancing and everyone will be included."

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