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Mariner hosts dance for students with special needs

By Staff | Apr 23, 2013

The guys got in their best suits, the girls dressed in their gowns and everyone wore masks as they took to the dance floor as Mariner High School hosted its fourth annual spring dance for students with special needs on Friday.

Students from five area high schools took part.

The dance, which had a masquerade ball theme this year, has grown every year and was created after it was discovered there was a need for an activity such as this.

“In working with the population, we realized many of them don’t go to prom or homecoming because of transportation issues or the need of chaperones,” said Mariner life skills teacher Carla Jerdan. “I decided to have a dance during the school day and invite every school in our zone with special needs.”

The dance was a huge success, and has grown to include students from Cape Coral, North Fort Myers, Ida Baker and Island Coast high schools with other schools, like Fort Myers and Dunbar,inquiring about taking part, Jerdan said.

Those schools couldn’t take part this year, since all the plans had been made, but could next year, Jerdan said.

The students had lunch upon arrival at 10:30 a.m., with food donated by Ill Primo Pizza, Jason’s Deli, Chick-fil-A and McDonald’s.

From there, it was to the gym for the dance, which featured a DJ (Island Coast teacher Kelly Schoen) a king and queen, along with a court, which was done by random drawing, Jerdan said, before things wound down around 1 p.m.

“The dance signifies the end of the year and a time to celebrate their achievements and get together with their friends,” Schoen said, whose school presents a similar Valentine’s Day dance. “It’s a blast to do this, to see everyone smiling and having a great time.”

Allison Isaacs of Cape High was named the queen, while Michael Thompson of North Fort Myers was named the king.

The court included Meghan Dorsey, Jillian Friedman, Emily Sofia and Erica Schallmo as princesses, and Kody Bradley, Marcos Wright, Josh Soper and D.J. Leffler as princes.

Jerdan also had the help of a group of student mentors – Mariner Mentors – who assisted the students attending the dance, and with organizing and helping with the function.

“They have helped every year, but this is the first year they were an organized group, with meetings throughout the year on how they can help my students,” Jerdan said.

It was a great day had by all, including administrators.

“It’s a great opportunity for the special needs students to get together as a group and cut loose, express themselves and for them to see us in a different light,” Mariner Principal Dr. Robert Butz said. “We get to see the kids all smiles and they get to see us outside of acedemics.”