Friday night was a special occasion for five students and their families, friends and other supportive community members who joined together to honor them. Renee Thompson, a special education instructor at Camden Elementary School, came up with the plan for “A Night to Remember,” a prom for five students in her class who are of the age to attend prom held this year at 833 Broad Street in Camden.
“We wanted to have a fun event so that the families could be a part of (prom) too,” Thompson said.
She expressed her appreciation for all individuals and organizations that supported the event, either by donating time to set up, supplies or by attending and sharing in the celebration.
“It was awesome,” Thompson said. “When I saw all the families there with their students, I knew we’d done it for the right reasons.”
Thompson noted the prom gave mothers the opportunity to take their daughters dress-shopping and “see them get their hair and makeup done.”
“The children had a great time,” she said. “It’s a way for us to show we really are one big family.”
Thompson explained that during the process of preparing for the event, there were times when she and her team “were teary-eyed and excited. As each little piece came together, it made us more and more excited,” she said. “It all came together so perfectly. I was so happy.”
Thompson attributes the success of the event to help from many people and named them -- teacher cadets from Camden High School and North Central High School (NCHS); students from Lugoff-Elgin High School (L-EHS); Lily Boykin; Cleo Rowell; Marnie Melton; Jackie Wallace; Camden IGA; Jack Brantley; Will Hinson; Melissa Ogle; Dancin’ on Broad; Victoria Expression; Junior Welfare League; Lugoff Flower and Interior Garden; Lowe’s; Mary Jo Tindall; Misty Mathis; Laurel Simmons; Pam Whitehead and family and Angie Harrison.
She also expressed her appreciation for the donations of food, decorations, time and service.
“We had so much given to us,” she said. “We paid for nothing.”
Others at the prom also expressed their appreciation for the event. Kershaw County Board of Schools Trustee Ron Blackmon said he came to the prom to support all the children who attended.
“Every child, in any class, should have the same opportunities. This is wonderful … it’s extremely wonderful,” he said with emotion. “Renee Thompson and her staff did this for these children and it’s beautiful. I bet they’ve been so excited, looking forward to this all week. Kershaw County does a lot of great things, but this kind of thing is the best.”
NCHS English and Teacher Cadet teacher Chelsea Sutusky said attending the prom was an honor.
“It’s a wonderful opportunity to be able to help with this,” she said.
Sutusky brought students from the NCHS teacher cadet program to the prom.
“It’s a good experience for them,” she said. “They’re having fun tonight and they’ve been looking forward to this night for awhile.”
Two of her students, Christian Pratt and Summer Catoe said they were both having a great night.
“The cadet program is a great way to get experience,” Pratt said. “It’s fun to work with kids in a hands-on way.”
“We can use these experiences in our future,” Catoe added.
Betty Johnson of Camden, also Thompson’s mother, said she admired her daughter’s work getting the prom in order.
“This is the first time anyone has done this and I think it’s remarkable,” she said. “Renee has worked on this for a while and she has gotten great support from the community. People called and asked how they can help.”
L-EHS Special Education Instructor Misty Mathis brought some of her students.
“I think it’s very beneficial for our students to be here,” she said. “Most kids in special education programs don’t get a prom like this. This is very special.”
(For more pictures, see our Localife montage.)