LNLC kids dance the day away

Linda Nolen Learning Center students dance during the school's Valentine's Day dance at the school on Feb. 14. The event helped raise money to purchase and maintain the school's equipment. (Reporter Photo/Jon Goering)

By NEAL WAGNER / City Editor

Smiles, and even a few tears, came to the faces of nearly every Linda Nolen Learning Center student as they caught their first glimpse of the school’s Valentine’s Day-themed auditorium on Feb. 14.

The school, which is located in Pelham and serves Shelby County students with significant special needs, hosted its annual Valentine’s Day dance in a room filled with white, red and pink balloons, large “Sweetheart” message hearts and Valentine’s-themed refreshments.

Students from Montevallo High School helped the LNLC kids dance and party to the dance music filling the room.

“This is all I’ve heard about for weeks,” LNLC adaptive physical education teacher Katie Boyd said with a laugh. “They just tickle me. When they get that positive attention, it helps them feel better about themselves.”

In the weeks leading up to the dance, the students conducted fundraisers to help the school purchase and maintain its specialized equipment, Boyd said.

The male and female students who raise the most money during the fundraiser are crowned the school’s Valentine’s Day dance king and queen, respectively. This year’s queen was Harpersville resident Amanda Shaw, who raised more than $1,100, and the king was Josie Tyce, who brought in about $200.

For Shaw and her family, the dance was especially significant, as this year marks the last year Shaw will be eligible to attend LNLC.

“She has a fatal genetic disorder, and she wasn’t supposed to live past 1 year old,” said Shaw’s mother, Tracy. “She will be 21 in July.”

Tracy Shaw said her daughter has been attending LNLC for nearly 17 years, and said she has seen many improvements in her daughter over the years.

“They said she would never talk, and she can now. She will say ‘Hey, momma.’ She is very aware of everything that’s going on around her,” Tracy Shaw said, noting her daughter picked out the dress she wore to the dance. “She’s been the queen the past three years.

“This is a happy day, but it is also a sad day, because we know this will be her last Valentine’s Day dance at Linda Nolen,” Tracy Shaw added.