Many high school students look forward each year to prom. They can dress up, have a fancy dinner and dance the night away with friends. Everyone also looks forward towards the crowning of the prom royal king and queen at the end.
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.
The seniors have been planning a surprise for Zane Wales, his long-term girlfriend, and Anna Anderson, their schoolmates who were both born with Down syndrome.
Teachers at the school heard about Zane being nominated for prom royalty king as early as February. Naturally, this meant Anna should also be nominated, so that she can be alongside 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.
Anna and Zane did not know they were nominated until the big night.
As they were crowned prom king and queen, the crowd burst into cheers. As they were awarded the honor, the couple received their crowns and sashes. They also took the obligatory photos.
Local businesses also contributed to make the evening even more memorable.
Emerald Limousine provided a limo for the couple to use to get to and fro 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 queen and king royalty are delighted to be given this honor and 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.
This was a truly inclusive moment that these high school students orchestrated for their classmates. Indeed, it’s a night that will stay with Zane and Anna for the rest of their lives.
Click the video below to see their prom.
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