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 SDCOE Schools Dance the Night (or Day) Away

Monarch prom 2017 king and queenMonarch School Prom Queen and King.

Prom season is in full swing for San Diego County high schools, and the schools of SDCOE are no exception.

Four SDCOE schools with high school-age students hold proms: Monarch School, which serves students experiencing homelessness; San Pasqual Academy, for students in foster care; Friendship School, for students who are medically fragile and have severe disabilities; and North County Academy (NCA), serving students who need additional mental health support. And their proms come with all the typical traditions like festive attire, fancy food, swanky venues, fun photos, and, of course, dancing.

“It’s important for all teen students, no matter their situation, to experience a typical high school activity like prom,” said Don Buchheit, interim assistant superintendent for Student Services and Programs. “Plus, they are really fun!”

Nearly three dozen NCA high school students celebrated “A Night in Paris” on May 19 at Green Dragon Tavern & Museum. It was NCA’s fifth annual prom, and the second straight year at the New England-style venue in Carlsbad. NCA education specialist David Reese said the prom is a join effort between SDCOE and San Diego Center for Children, which provides therapeutic services for students at the school. The students have a big say in the evening, working with Reese on the theme, decorations, publicity, venue, and menu. The students even select a prom king and queen.

Friendship School prom dancing teacher, studentFriendship School’s older students celebrated in “An Enchanted Garden” during an afternoon prom May 25 at the Imperial Beach school. Extensive decorations, including elements to make the room appear as though it was evening, were handled by Principal Diana Lynn, teacher Nan Gross, occupational therapist Lida Ramos, and a friend of Gross’s. Parents and Friendship School staff members mingled and danced with students. And classmates selected a prom queen and king, Esbeydee Mora and Edmundo Arcienga.

San Pasqual Academy’s “A Night of a Thousand Lights” was held May 26 at the Fairmont Grand Del Mar. The nonprofit group Friends of San Pasqual Academy organized the event for the four dozen 9th- through 12th-graders.

“San Pasqual Academy wants every student to have a traditional experience that all high schools have. This includes such things as homecoming and prom,” Friends of San Pasqual Academy said.

About four dozen students attended Monarch School’s “Sea of Dreams” prom June 2 at Luce Loft in San Diego’s East Village neighborhood. Teachers and Monarch School Project staff members collaborated on the event, including serving as chaperones.

“Prom is an important milestone event for our high school students,” said Allie Peterson, Monarch School Project’s volunteer coordinator. “It is a night outside of campus where they feel celebrated. They enjoy feeling special, and enjoy seeing our staff and community unite together to make this event happen for them.”

Peterson and Principal Joe Wiseman gave thanks for the generosity of donors and community organizations that supported the school’s efforts to ensure the students had a memorable prom night. Luce Loft and the Princess Project donated the venue, dresses, tuxedos, accessories, and more, and a group of stylists from Bellus Academy cosmetology school donated their time and talent for hair and makeup services for students. Volunteers and donations also ensured that Monarch students enjoyed all the features of prom, including flowers, dinner, a photo booth, photography, live DJ, and transportation.