Special Needs Students Experience Prom

Students in Josh Burton's special education classes helped raise money to be able to enjoy the prom experience.

April 14th is a night Michael Wilson, Demetric Evans, and D.J. Beal will never forget. For these two juniors and one senior, it was a chance to experience a high school right of passage, prom. Even the most reserved among them enjoyed the entire evening.

"They loved it. I have one kid that, anywhere you take him, maybe it's Special Olympics or wherever; when we get done, 'did you enjoy it?' 'No, no.' But when we got home from prom, or I took him back to his house, I asked him the same question. He was like 'yes, I did', so you could really tell they had a good time," said Josh Burton, special education teacher at Newton High School.

They raised $1,100 through a golf tournament and selling t-shirts to have the entire prom experience, from tuxes to dinner prior to prom.

Burton said he simply wanted his students to be able to experience prom just like all the other students.

"We heard an announcement over the intercom one day about prom," said Burton. "And I have one senior and two juniors, and I just thought they don't get to do the same things the regular ed kids get to do."

Burton hopes to make taking the kids to prom an annual event for his students who are juniors and seniors.

The students enjoyed the entire time at prom. So much so, it was difficult for them to pick just one thing they enjoyed most.

"My favorite part was I got to see everyone dance," said Michael, a senior.

"Everyone had a good time," said Demetric, a junior.

(reporter): "What did you do? Did you get on the dance floor? Did you just talk? What did you do?"

"Kind of talked," said D.J., a junior, who added he had a good time.

Burton wants to continue helping his kids go to prom, and hopefully, make the experience even bigger next year.

"We're going to do the same thing. We're going to make the golf tournament an annual thing. And we didn't have a big turnout," Burton said. "I think we had 9 or 10 teams is all, and I was expecting probably 15 or 20. Next year we're going to boost it up a little better and hopefully raise a lot more money, and maybe we can get that limo next year."


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  • by Nathan Location: Meridian on Apr 24, 2012 at 07:15 PM
    I had the great privilege of attending high school, playing sports and even working with Mr. Burton. With that said he is just as passionate now as he was then about things. I was honored with the great privilege of being able to play in the golf tournament and everyone could see how passionate he was about this great fundraiser and you could see how he was supported 100% by his school and especially is assistants. Mr. Burton I have known you for a while now and commend you on a job well done and commend your assistants for the job they have done. I hope that when I have kids they are treated like you and your staff treat your kids. I commend you and think everything you have done for these kids and continue to do is very positive and noteworthy of you and the staff at the Newton City School district.
    • reply
      by Josh on Apr 25, 2012 at 10:43 AM in reply to Nathan
      Thanks buddy. Your words are way overdone but I appreciate it. I guess my goal with this job is to make these kids get noticed more and for people to be educated on their conditions etc. Hope to see you this weekend at The Crawfish Tourney.
  • by MIMI Location: Meridian on Apr 24, 2012 at 09:52 AM
    This is an amazing story. So nice to know we still have caring teachers. Mr. Burton, I hope you're still with the district next year and will advertise the fund raising event, I would love to contribute.Blessings upon you and the wee ones.
  • by Josh Location: Burton on Apr 24, 2012 at 06:13 AM
    First of all I want to thank everyone for the nice comments. But most importantly none of this was possible with my assistants Ms. Carolyna Skinner and Mrs. Debra Wash. Theses ladies have gone above and beyond to make sure these kids get what they need and deserve. I would lay down my life for these two women. I love them more than they know. So if you know or see them please commend them on being Angels sent straight from God. I'm not sure if I said something to make everyone think that Newton High was not allowing them in prom? When I said these kids do not always get the same opportunities I meant that a lot of times they are not able to speak up for themselves so there are a lot of opportunities that are easily overlooked for them. NMSD is a wonderful school district and these kids NEVER get mistreated. Even other students walking done the hall always give them high-five or bump knuckles with them. When I first started working here and I saw how accepting the regular ed. kids were here, I just got chills and was overwhelmed with joy. NMSD allowed me to have these fundraisers and supported me 100%. I have NOTHING bad to say about MY district and MY family here at NMSD.I hope this clears it all up.
  • by Citizen Location: MS on Apr 24, 2012 at 05:01 AM
    People...read and then think... do not ASSUME. These children were not excluded from the prom. Many children with their back grounds come from very low income families that struggle more than others. I know this because I work in the school system and see it every day. A lot of times their families are struggling to make ends meet and they are not able to get out and get a part time job to help their parents pay for the prom - which IS expensive. What this teacher did was wonderful. It is not the school systems responsibility to bare such a financial burden for a family but they went above and beyond for a very special group of students.
  • by Anonymous on Apr 23, 2012 at 08:58 PM
    Some seem to have the wrong idea about this. These students were not excluded from the school prom. This fundraising helped them have all that goes along with a prom. Special clothes, special meals, a nice ride. I don't know their situation but all of that can be expensive. This took away what could have been a burden or even impossible for some. Whether that was the case or not doesn't matter. This was a thoughtful thing to initiate, Mr. Burton. I am so glad these young men had a fun and special night to remember.
    • reply
      by IMH on Apr 24, 2012 at 05:44 AM in reply to
      I am glad that you clarified this! Some people tend to look for the negative in every situation. I dont feel that the students were ever excluded from the prom. but, like you stated, going to the prom can be very expensive and a fundraiser to help with the cost was an excellent idea :)
  • by Teacher on Apr 23, 2012 at 07:08 PM
    Thank you, Mr. Burton, for caring about a population of people who are often made fun of, forgotten, and pushed aside. I hope many more special needs students are able to experience prom night in the coming years!
  • by Anonymous Location: butler on Apr 23, 2012 at 05:40 PM
    Those guys were sharpppp! This was great. Our students over in the twin state can go to the prom if they are a Jr. or a Sr., and have paid their prom dues. They can even run for prom king and queen.
  • by maggie Location: meridian on Apr 23, 2012 at 03:56 PM
    All children who graduate are supposed to be able to go to Prom. This was outstanding of this teacher Mr. Burton.... however; WHAT IS WRONG WITH THE SCHOOL?????
    • reply
      by Rhonda on Apr 23, 2012 at 06:18 PM in reply to maggie
      Why were they excluded from the prom with the rest of the students? Did they have a prom with 3 students attending?
      • reply
        by Josh Burton on Apr 24, 2012 at 06:15 AM in reply to Rhonda
        Please read my recent post. I hope it clears all this up.
    • reply
      by Newton County Parent on Apr 24, 2012 at 07:17 AM in reply to maggie
      Maggie these children do have the same opportunity to go to the prom just like all juniors and seniors. Going to the prom can be costly and can put a financial strain on parents. The fundraiser was conducted to ensure that these kids were able to go financially and were afforded the entire prom experience, something which their parents may or may not have been able to afford. Mr. Burton really cares about these kids and made sure they had a night they would always remember by raising funds to give them the "total prom experience".
  • by Sheila Location: Newton on Apr 23, 2012 at 03:20 PM
    Mr. Burton is truly an angel sent to his students. He goes above and beyond the call of his teaching duties. The prom was just the icing on the cake.
  • by Anonymous Location: NEWTON on Apr 23, 2012 at 12:52 PM
    Great job, Mr. Burton. That was a wonderful thing you did.
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