Angel Prom Hits High Note

Shoemaker hosted KISD's second angel prom
By: Todd Martin
Swaying slowly and then accelerating to the changing beat of the music, students dressed in formal gowns and coats and ties moved and swirled together.
The DJ played music on the cafeteria stage, surrounded by lights bathing the space in funky colors illuminating bright smiles. Students gathered in groups, formed circles, took photos and soaked it all in – high school prom.
For the second year, Killeen ISD special education leaders at all the district’s high schools combined to host a prom at Shoemaker High School. Once again, at the forefront of the planning was Letha Reeves, a champion of students and families at Shoemaker and beyond.
Technically, Reeves is a classroom aide at Shoemaker assigned to at risk populations. In reality, she’s an advocate determined to provide special experiences for special students and families throughout the community.
The “Angel Prom” she galvanized to life a year ago with the help of numerous supporters gained steam this year with all the high schools represented and the Boys and Girls Club taking a lead role.
“It’s for kids to feel a part with their peers,” she said, finally sitting down as the dance entered its final half-hour the night of Saturday, May 11.
Community sponsors showed their generosity all over the event. A limousine parked in front of the school served as photo backdrop. A studio photographer sat up inside the cafeteria.
Students arriving at the formally decorated cafeteria entered on a red carpet between red ropes and stepped below a balloon canopy past yellow stars taped to the floor with students’ names attached.
“They think they’re in Hollywood,” said Reeves.
The event last year was so popular that parents made sure it would happen again and planning is underway for the third one next year.
“It brings joy and it brings tears to me,” Reeves said. “We have great support here,” she said of the 90 volunteers assembled to decorate and clean and supervise the 80 participating students.
Angelia Batie, one of numerous parents working in the background while also keeping an eye on the festivities, said the prom is just one event she has seen build her son’s confidence. Special Olympics track meets and college visits, she said, are important to him.
“They come out of their shell and blossom,” she said. “It’s a blessing. You can see there are so many advocates for them here.”
The parent said the tight-knit group of special education parents, many tied to Special Olympics, appreciate the chance for students to socialize together.
This year, organizers crowned a king and queen representing each of the four KISD high schools and the eight chosen ones danced together to begin one of the last dances of the evening.
“A lot of children have different socialization skills,” Batie said. “Some of them are not good with crowds. Here they are accepted.”
“We all come together at the prom,” said Reeves. “We’re all together as family.”