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Paso High student organizes prom for classmates with special needs

Posted at 6:53 AM, Feb 03, 2020
and last updated 2020-02-03 10:27:12-05

Prom night is a time many students look forward to throughout their high school career but for some students with special needs, attending the dance may seem out of reach.

Though all students are invited to school events, many of them may have difficulty with the large crowd, loud music, and lack of parental support.

Paso Robles High School Junior Jesse Muth noticed his classmates with special needs weren't attending dances or other school events, so he decided to step up with a creative idea to help all students experience those year book moments.

"A lot of times, I don't see special ed students at our dances so I thought it would be a really good opportunity to make it special for them," Muth said.

For his Eagle Scout project, Muth spent weeks organizing the special event, securing donations of food, decorations, and time from business owners in the area.

The end result was on full display Friday, when over 40 students with special needs took over the dance floor and moved to the music.

For Bernadette Corona, the mother of a student with special needs, the total experience was something she had worried her daughter would never have.

"It's just difficult to let her go on her own," Corona said. "With special needs, you're more protective."

Audrey has autism and epilepsy, which makes her sensitive to light and sound.

But when the Coronas learned there would be a prom designed to be accessible for all students, they rushed out to find the perfect dress, heels, and accessories.

"We tried on - gosh, how many, like a million dresses and found the perfect one," Corona said.

After hours of shopping, Corona and her daughter, Audrey, found the perfect prom dress.

At the dance, students were treated to food and drinks, T-shirts, a photo booth, and music.

"It just reminds me how amazing so many of our Bearcats are," Paso Robles High School Principal Anthony Overton said.

When Overton first heard Muth's pitch, he was all smiles.

"It's really important, kind of one of our cultural milestones," Overton said. "If they have a lot of fun and really enjoy it, might encourage them to get involved in all of our dances and opportunities at Paso High."

For families like the Coronas, the special dance means much more than just the photos. It's a gesture that goes beyond this one night.

"I think it's amazing, I really want to meet this kid. It's really cool that they're thinking about others," Corona said. "It's something I never expected."

Muth hopes this special prom will continue even after he graduates next year.