More than two dozen special needs students celebrated their prom this afternoon at the John G. Leach School in New Castle.

The prom is held annually to ensure that the special needs students get the opportunity to attend the same special dance as other high school students.

“It is very important that our students here have the same experiences as any student would have.  Almost everyone has their prom experience, and we don’t want to shortchange our students for not having that same experience,” said Christal Beasley, principal of the John G. Leach School.

The students who have severe physical and developmental disabilities were escorted to the red carpet themed prom with student volunteers from William Penn High School.

“We have two groups that are here with us today, we have student council who come over and work with us during special events, and then we have our peer program where students come over on a daily basis or every other day on their academics or their social skills,” said Beasley.

William Penn High School juniors Madison Stewart and Savannah Clark are two participants in the peer program and said they enjoy helping the special needs students.

“We come here every third period for an hour an a half, and we do activities and help them with their school day,” said Stewart.

“I really like working with the kids here, I’m actually really glad I took this class,” said Clark. “It makes me feel good to work with them and see them react to us and stuff like that.”

Many parents were also on hand to capture the memory.

“It’s a valuable time for them to come out and see their students,” said Beasley. “The families do a lot of planning, shopping. I believe we even have one student and her mother who went to New York to find her dress.”

The prom was decorated with balloons and streamers and featured a live DJ. Many of the William Penn students wheeled the special needs students around on the dance floor to the songs “Cotton Eyed Joe” and the “Chicken Dance”.

The highlight of the event was the announcement of the prom court and the prom king and queen.