ShareThis Page

Community support helps Life Skills students to enjoy day at prom

| Friday, May 30, 2014, 5:31 p.m.
Randy Jarosz | For the Bridgeville Area News
South Fayette seniors Patrick Mancini and Alexandria Brazelton dance during a prom held for special-needs students on May 28 at PNC Park's Lexus Club.
Randy Jarosz | For the Bridgeville Area News
Carlynton sophomore Ziaire Teagle dances during a prom held for special-needs students on May 28 at PNC Park's Lexus Club.
Randy Jarosz | For the Bridgeville Area News
Carlynton seniors Hailey Baker and Justin Autry dance during a prom held for special-needs students on May 28 at PNC Park's Lexus Club.

The disc jockey played pop artist Katy Perry's “Firework,” and the kids went wild.

The students threw up their hands, kicked off their heels and discarded their jackets. But mostly, they danced, even though it was 9:30 a.m. — because it was the prom.

The students were part of the Life Skills programs – designed for those with special needs – at nine area school districts. The nine groups meet throughout the year for various functions at different districts. The districts take turns hosting the prom.

“They become a big group of friends. At their high school prom, they wouldn't be together,” said Colleen Geletko, event planner for Hello Productions, which has organized the prom for the past two years. “They all mingle. They all mix together.”

Geletko and Hello Productions became involved last year through a connection with Elizabeth Forward School District, which hosted the 2013 prom. The dances had previously been held in the host district's gym, with teachers providing most of the entertainment.

South Fayette hosted this year's prom, and worked with Geletko to bring it to life again.

“The students are still talking about last year's prom,” said Kara Pappas, a South Fayette special education teacher. “This is their day.”

For Carlynton special education teacher Frank Zebrasky, it's about watching his students have fun.

“This is ‘the' day for them,” he said. “It's a great activity that they show so much camaraderie at. All you have to do is look at them to see. There are moments, and then there are ‘moments.'”

Students hit the dance floor as soon as they arrived, breaking only for lunch and a magic show.

It was Carlynton senior Haely Mollica's first prom.

“It's awesome,” she said. “I like that we can all be here together.”

PNC Park donated the venue, and Aramark and Levy Restaurants provided lunch. Corsages, boutonnieres, a photo booth and DJ services were also donated. Project Prom helped provide dresses for some students, and beauty academies in the North and South Hills handled hair styling and makeup.

Pappas said the community support was unreal.

“Everybody came together to give them the day they deserve,” she said.

She said that while Life Skills students are invited to the high school prom, they do not always have the opportunity to participate.

“This is a day we can be here to support them and still give them as close to a regular prom as possible,” she said.

Megan Guza is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 412-388-5810 or

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.