Pella Students Excited for Special Prom Started by Teacher

PELLA, Iowa  --  A Pella Middle School teacher wants her students to have a night they'll never forget, but the dance she's planning isn't just for her students; she hopes the entire community benefits from the special prom.

The Pella Middle School students have fun learning important life skills in the Special Education classroom.

"We always do breakfast and we do hygiene," said 7th grade student Caden Verhoef.

Lately, talk around the table has turned to another topic.

“It's the prom. I'm bringing one girl. Her name is Haley and I wear the nice pretty uniform," said Caden.

Special education teacher Kelsie Sheets is planning a Night of Stars. The dance is for middle school students all the way up to adults with special needs.

Sheets said, "Really we just want to take a night and treat them like kings and queens. They're going to walk down the red carpet, and we're just going to treat them like royalty for a night and hopefully show them how special they are to us."

The prom is inspired by the Tim Tebow Foundation's Night to Shine, but the Night of Stars is hosted by Sheets' non-profit Launching Arrows, which she started a year and a half ago to help people with special needs get involved in extra-curricular activities.

"We talked about contacting the Tim Tebow Foundation, but we wanted to hook it to my non-profit and we have all the resources here in our surrounding communities, so we thought we could go ahead and do it."

Launching Arrows has raised about $6,000 for the prom through community support and even with a little help from the students. They have a coffee cart they push around each Wednesday to sell coffee to the teachers. Several local businesses and organizations have also donated to the cause.

"Knights of Columbus is one of our big ones, they've kind of jumped on board, helped us advertise, the men are helping build structures that meet the accommodations that our students need," said Sheets.

The students are looking forward to the prom.

"There's games and food, and drink and music," said Caden.

"It's just a great experience that I think we're going to have," added Nick Showman.

But the community may get the most out of this experience.

"I'm hoping that through this experience everyone is going to see how much these individuals bring to our lives every single day,” said Sheets, getting emotional.

"We all kind of live in our own bubble. It's really important to understand there's so much out there, and there's so much that these individuals have to offer," she added.

A Night of Stars is May 13th from 7 - 10 p.m. at Vermeer Pavilion in Pella. They're expecting about 200 guests. You can go to the Launching Arrows Facebook page for information about signing up, volunteering, or donating.