Looking back at my high school experience, one memory that still stands out from the rest was prom night — and all that came with it. The dress. The date. The hair. The makeup. The flowers. We all got to feel like princes and princesses, if only for one night, and as cheesy as it probably sounds (now that I’m 20 years removed), it’s still a memory I hold close.
For many teens, going to prom (and finding a date) is often taken for granted. For others, it can sometimes feel like an impossibility.
But on Saturday, May 5, a few kind police officers from Boynton Beach, Florida made sure that several local students with special needs didn’t just make it to prom — they made sure they weren’t showing up solo, either. And by all accounts, they had a blast.
The idea originated with retired officer Scott Harris, whose wife teaches special education at John I. Leonard Community High School in Green Acres, Florida. Harris knew that many of these kids were likely going to miss their prom, so he and his fellow officers decided to do something about that.
And they didn’t just attend — these men and women went all out to ensure the kids felt just as special as all of the other students who attended, even buying corsages and boutonnieres for their dates.
The officers then went on to dance the night away, and if you watch the video footage that was later shared on the Boynton Police Department’s social media pages, you’ll see that they didn’t hold back.
Stephanie Slater, a public information officer for the Boynton Police Department, tells Babble that the students “were just as excited as the officers were” and that this plan was well thought out and took several months to plan.
“The students surprised us last month by showing up to one of our planning meetings,” says Slater, “so we had the opportunity to get to know them in advance.”
The officers reportedly let loose, doing a little whip and Nae Nae to Silentó’s “Watch Me” and even tweeting out that they were “turnt up!” while dancing to Big Sean’s “Bounce Back.”
It was certainly a party for the record books.
If you’re wondering how the rest of the high schoolers felt about these extra guests, Slater says they were actually a little caught off-guard at first, wondering why the local cops were crashing their prom. But once they figured it all out, the teens were pretty supportive. In fact, Slater tells Babble that they even danced alongside the officers.
In a society that’s increasingly focused on inclusion, having all students feel welcomed at prom is important.
“They’re awesome kids and now they’re mingling with all the other kids doing the same thing that the kids that don’t have the disabilities are doing,” Officer Harris shared in an interview with WPTV news.
What a night to remember, not just for the students with special needs, but for their dates as well.
“On that dance floor, there were no disabilities, no barriers between us,” Slater tells Babble. “We just danced and laughed the night away. We can’t help but smile when we think about it. This was life changing for us.”
And that’s how prom should be done.