Panola College Occupational Therapy Assistant students hosted an end-of-semester prom for adults in the Community Health Core Group at the Carthage Civic Center on Friday, Nov. 17.
“We have worked with this group every Wednesday this semester in our Artisan’s Way Program,” said Professor Joy Moreland. “Our students had formed bonds with them and wanted to do something special for them. It was really a collective effort among all my students and myself.”
The OTA students decorated the Civic Center in a “Winter Wonderland Masquerade Ball” theme with Christmas trees, twinkling lights, snow white ornaments, and a disco ball of revolving multi-colored lights. The students provided a buffet of snacks, including hot dogs and nachos, along with a hot chocolate bar.
The prom started at 5 p.m., but Panola College Cosmetology students arrived much earlier to work their magic with hair and makeup for the Community Health Core participants. Professor Bobbie Smith said her students enjoyed helping with the prom.
“This event was so rewarding to myself and the students,” Smith said. “It was the first time to collaborate with the OTA program, and we hope not the last! I have participated in other special needs dances and proms and cannot fully explain the joy and happiness I feel making these
special ladies beautiful. They are truly a blessing and I end up feeling like I have received way more than I have provided.”
“Every week, one of the things we do consistently in the classroom is dance. They love the music and it’s a great way to promote physical activity and social interaction,” Moreland said.
She praised community volunteers who donated their time and services to making the prom possible. These include Rusty Evans, who chauffeured prom-goers on free limo rides; Drew’s Entertainment, who provided DJ services; Curly Q’s; James Wood Constructions; Strozier Railcar Maintenance; Kimberly Cadena-El Mexicano: Taqueria and Custom Cakes; Texas Home Health; Therapy Group of Texas; Marshall Police Officers Association; Theron and Sheryl Tate; and Little Shop of Vinyl.
“Patricia Taylor directs the Community Health Core Group,and we have enjoyed working with them all semester. I was so proud that all of my OTA students participated. This was a good way for my students to do something to serve others, and to learn how to interact therapeutically with special needs adults,” Moreland added.
OTA students involved in this project include GloriaArellano, Carthage; Lani Blohm, Marshall; Erica Booth, Marshall; MadiBrown, Carthage; Vanessa Cox, Waskom; Caitlin Elliott, Long Branch; Chelsea Elliott, Troup; Jessica Fernandez, Wallis; Kallie Forman, Buna; Ashley Gentry, Carthage; Ellie Holloway, Henderson; Kailon Jackson, Jefferson; Kristen LeBlanc, Marshall; Lacy Miles, Marshall; Leah Montandon, Hallsville; Waldina Moran, Lufkin; Keather Nichols, Buna; Alyissa Riddle, Waskom; Emily Smith, Jasper; Rialie Taylor, Garrison; Graciela Villanueva, Henderson; Darian Wood, Nacogdoches, and Crystal Zapata, Longview.
Cosmetology students who helped with hair and makeup include Talon Chambers, Gary; Karlee Corhorst, Carthage; Ashley Crawford, Timpson; Kelly Davis, Marshall; Destiney Divine, Gary; Kirstyn Jacks, Carthage; Katherine “Kay” Johnson, Carthage; Liberty Moser, Carthage; Jasmine Walton, Carthage; and Dana Young, Gary.
“I went into the event thinking it would just be fun and I would make them happy and beautiful,” said student Kirstyn Jacks. “What I didn’t realize is I would be the one that would receive the most out of this experience. I would do it again in a heartbeat!”
Rusty Evans of Rusty’s Limo Service provided free rides for prom goers.
Participants enjoyed a photo booth.
The Winter Wonderland Masquerade Ball provided a magical evening for Community Health Core participants.