Westminster Christian School senior Victoria Suris has been working since the start of the school year on a prom for special needs teens. Called A Night to Shine, the February 7 prom will include students from Promised Land Academy and Beyond Expectations Academy and possibly more schools.
Suris applied to the Tim Tebow Foundation to get permission to do the project, which is under the auspices of the Westminster Leadership Committee.
Westminster students are planning a make-up station, a hair station and a shoe shine station to help the prom goers get ready for their big night. She is working on securing discounts or donations on party dresses or dress shirts and ties for the attendees.
“We’re going to try and help out in any way we possibly can,” she says. “Personally speaking, I wouldn’t try to have a set dress code. Some of the kids might have sensory issues so as to what’s comfortable.”
She says her autistic brother will be attending.
“He’s fine wearing the nice shirt and pants, but there aren’t going to be restrictions on the clothing,” she says.
Suris says many of Westminister’s parents have businesses that might be able to help make the prom a success.
The plan is to have as many of the elements of a high school prom as possible.
“We will be renting a limousine so that the kids can have the experience of riding around in a limo on the campus grounds,” she says.
The dance will be held at the Westminster Student Activities Center.
“The teacher that runs our committee brought the idea to me and he’s been letting me run with it.” she says. “I’m head of the community service committee. I’ve been planning it with the help of my fellow community service committee members.”
Westminster is paying for the prom, but if they run short on money, the Tim Tebow Foundation can give grants.
“It’s no charge to the guests,” Suris says.
This is her first year on the Leadership Council and she is happy to be in charge of the project.
At Westminster, Suris is also involved in the National Honor Society. Outside of school, most of her volunteer time is spent on church activities.
“I lead a small group of middle school girls at youth group,” she says.
The youth group meets Wednesday nights at the church.
“We do worship together and message together,” she says. “Then we break up into small groups and I take the middle school girls.”
In the small groups they continue to talk about the message and she listens to the girls who might be going through some difficulties at school or at home.
“I try and listen and give them advice,” she says.
If they have problems and need someone to listen, the younger girls can contact her outside the group.
On Friday nights, she hosts a group of high school and college aged church members at her house.
“On Friday nights, me and my brother plan events and we always have food and invite people,” she says. “The youth pastor leads this group too. He gives the message and then they all hang out.”
So far, Suris has been accepted to Florida International University, Miami-Dade College and Palm Beach Atlantic, a small Christian college in Palm Beach.
“I’m thinking about going into psychiatry or nursing,” she says. “I’ve always felt passionate about mental health especially with kids that have been through traumatic experiences.”
She’s also considering specialized nursing, such as working in the NICU.
Linda Rodriguez Bernfeld