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Hempfield 'stars' celebrate prom 'Gangnam Style'

| Thursday, May 2, 2013, 8:21 p.m.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
(From left) Keriann Collins, 18, Josh Norkin, 16, Austin Chambers, 16, Kayla Weaver, 18, and Jessica DeFloria, 18, pose as a friend takes their photo at the prom. The students in the full-time learning support class did all of the planning for the big night.
Brian F. Henry | Tribune-Review
Emily Doran, 17, says a few words after the grand march at `An Evening of Stars.'

Excitement coursed through the classroom all day as students in Amanda Murray's full-time learning support class awaited their prom on the evening of April 25.

“This is like the greatest night in the world for them,” said Murray, their teacher at Hempfield Area High School.

The anticipation turned into reality as 17 students sporting suits and dresses dined together.

“It was a splendid night,” senior Jon Kraucz, 19, said. “And this prom is not just to have fun but to teach everyone to appreciate each other and themselves and to respect each other.”

Murray hopes to host the event every other year for the students in the class, who range in age from 14 to 21.

After dinner, there was dancing and entertainment from a magician and a caricature artist at Rizzo's Malabar Inn in Crabtree.

Students selected Psy's hit “Gangnam Style” as their prom song.

They raised money for the event by selling coupon booklets, and then they learned to manage money in a checking account.

They made programs, learned about good manners, and designed and signed T-shirts.

“They planned everything,” Murray said. “Our whole program is based on getting them ready for after high school.”

“An Evening of Stars” took on a Hollywood theme with red and black balloons adorning the banquet room.

“They're all our shining stars,” Murray said about the students.

The three senior girls in the class were crowned prom queens, and the four senior boys were dubbed prom kings.

Kayla Weaver, an 18-year-old senior, wore a dress adorned with glitter as she was crowned.

“I feel excited,” she said. “We get to hang out with some cool friends.”

During the grand march, an announcer, who later doubled as disc jockey, read aloud each student's involvement in clubs and activities.

“This is kind of a night for them to celebrate all their hard work and determination,” Murray said.

Teachers and classroom aides joined in the celebration, including teacher Sheila Anderson, who imparts life skills in a “Foods and More” class.

“It's been a privilege to have them as students — to see them grow and learn and enjoy it,” she said.

“It's been a great night so far because we get to hang out with friends, get dressed up, do some dancing,” said sophomore Austin Chambers, 16.

Rossilynne Skena is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-6646 or