LNLC travels under the sea for prom

Students who step into the Linda Nolen Learning Center’s cafeteria April 2 are in for an underwater adventure at this year’s prom. An old ship, coral and colorful fish are among the decorations the school is preparing for its “Underwater Fantasy” themed event.

While most kids have to wait until their junior or senior years to attend a prom, students of all ages at the Linda Nolen Learning Center get to enjoy the experience.

The LNLC currently serves around 120 students with special needs from the ages of three until 21. This is the first year the preschoolers will be allowed to participate, said Cindy Warner, the Public Relations and Community Education Supervisor for Shelby County schools. There will be two separate prom times for students fifth grade and under, and sixth through 12th grade, she said.

It’s up to the students to decide how fancy they want to look for their prom.

“We sell prom T-shirts, so some kids come in blue jeans and their T-shirts and some in suits, ties, and dresses,” said Katie Boyd, who teaches the Adaptive Physical Education class. Her P.E. department is the one organizing the prom.

“Teachers and parents who attend can dress up as well,” she added.

Like most proms, the one at LNLC includes refreshments, music, dancing and a prom king and queen. But this prom will also be a chance for the LNLC students to engage in physical and sensory therapy.

“The prom gets the kids moving around. Some of the ones in wheelchairs can get out for awhile to dance with their parents, teachers or friends,” said Warner.

The decorations provide sensory therapy for students who have trouble seeing well, said Boyd.

“We have lights, stuff hanging down, bright colors, a lot of glitter. Some kids who have visual problems can see those lights and see bright colors,” she said.

A group of students from Montevallo Middle, Helena Middle and Kingwood Christian schools will also be attending so LNLC students can interact with their typical peers, said Boyd.

“I just plug in my iPod and let them dance. In PE class we learn the electric slide, so once kids realize that song is on, they’ll dance. The typical kids who come in know it too, so in those group dances, everybody dances together,” Boyd said.