Glynn County Schools will soon roll out the red carpet for special-needs students at the 11th annual ACCESS prom.
The event is hosted by the Special Needs Foundation of Southeast Georgia for students with special needs in the school system’s ACCESS program.
This year’s prom will take place April 27 from 6-9 p.m. at Old City Hall in Brunswick.
“It really is the highlight of the year for them,” said Cassie Busby, a special education teacher at Glynn Academy and one of the prom’s organizers. “It’s so much fun.”
Members of the Terror Buddies at Glynn Academy and Pirate Buddies at Brunswick High School help prepare for the event by decorating the night before. They also attend the prom alongside the honored guests.
Students anticipate the annual prom for months in advance, said Madison Bracewell, a junior at Glynn Academy and a member of the Terror Buddies club, which pairs special needs students with their same-age peers.
“Being there, it’s just magical because they’ve all been waiting for it and they know what they’re wearing, and then when they get there it’s kind of surreal,” Bracewell said.
The prom’s organizers provide corsages and boutonnieres for the students. The Dark Room will provide photography. The students will also get to take limousine rides during the event. Food will be provided, and Island Sound will offer DJ services during the event.
Nearly 80 students are invited to the prom, from Brunswick High School, Glynn Academy and Morningstar Academy.
The organizers are currently looking for men’s formalwear that will be provided for students who cannot afford their own.
The students’ parents are also able to enjoy the night, Busby said.
“All of our ACCESS students can invite two guests, and oftentimes those are their parents,” she said. “So they get to come and enjoy the night too. They get to sit back and relax or dance with their kids as well.”
The annual ACCESS prom is a special evening for families, she said.
“It gives them a chance to have that milestone — that big high school milestone,” Busby said.
The special education students often prefer this night to the schoolwide prom.
“They’re of course always invited to their regular prom, but most of our kids wouldn’t feel comfortable in that kind of setting,” Busby said. “This night is all about them. It is so wonderful.”
The Terror Buddies and Pirate Buddies clubs allow the students to spend time together year-round, but the prom is a unique event that brings them all together for a night of fun, said Mary Tortorete, a junior at Glynn Academy and member of the Terror Buddies.
“You see them truly shine when they’re dancing and getting crowned,” she said. “It really warms your heart. I love going. I’m going to this instead of regular prom.”