Prom is a night that many high school students look forward to. The event is a chance for them to dress up, eat a fancy dinner, and dance the night away with their friends. Of course, everyone also looks forward to the crowning of the prom royalty king and queen toward the end of the night.
This year’s graduating class at Jefferson Forest High School in Virginia is no different, but what sets them apart is their touching efforts toward promoting inclusivity.
For the last few weeks, the seniors have been secretly planning a surprise for their schoolmates Zane Wales and his long-time girlfriend, Anna Anderson, both of whom were born with Down syndrome.
As early as February, teachers at the school have heard talks about nominating Zane for prom royalty king. Naturally, that meant Anna should be nominated as well, so she gets to be beside him as queen.
“Probably in February or March, I had a few students like, ‘You know what? This year, Zane Wales for prom king — let’s do it!’” said teacher Heather Hevener. “So, they started the campaign on their own, and then, when we asked for nominations, Zane’s name came through.”
“A few students were saying, ‘Zane Wales for prom king,’ and Zane and Anna have been together since middle school, so wherever Zane is, Anna’s there too, so it’s fitting for both of them to be prom king and queen,” added special education teacher Taylor Perkins, who works with directly with the couple every day.
She described them as “fun-loving, free-spirited people.”
“Anybody is lucky to know them, and the school is lucky to have them,” said teacher Taylor.
On the big night, neither Zane nor Anna knew they had been nominated and selected until their names were called.
The crowd erupted into cheers as they were declared prom king and queen. The couple got both their crowns and sashes and took obligatory photos as they were given the honor.
Local businesses also pitched in to make their evening even more remarkable.
Emerald Limousine lent them a limo to get to and from the big dance. Celebration Bridal donated Anna’s dress and Zane’s tuxedo, so they’d both look dashing during the special night.
“They see these kids every day,” teacher Heather said. “They walk the same halls with these same kids, and they just feel like they’re part of them, so they wanted to make sure that they also really felt part of them.”
The king and queen royalty are thrilled to have been given the honor and say they feel like movie stars.
“They’re amazing with these students. Being prom king and prom queen, people are like, ‘Can I have your autograph?’” teacher Taylor said. “They’re just so sweet. I hope that this reaches other schools and programs to be more inclusive as well.”
Anna said her favorite part of the night was the dance, while Zane’s was the moment he got his crown.
Kudos to these high school students for orchestrating this beautifully inclusive moment for their classmates! Indeed, it’s a night that will stay with Zane and Anna for the rest of their lives.
Click on the video below to see how their prom went.
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