A special dance for local students

Zoe Cutler, center, and Kaitlin Barela, both Durango High School seniors, dance with freshman Reilly Coker at the Peer Influence Valentine’s Day dance Friday afternoon. Coker was given the best dressed award at the function. Enlarge photo

JOSH STEPHENSON/Durango Herald

Zoe Cutler, center, and Kaitlin Barela, both Durango High School seniors, dance with freshman Reilly Coker at the Peer Influence Valentine’s Day dance Friday afternoon. Coker was given the best dressed award at the function.

When Durango High School occupational therapist Robyn Kellogg wanted special needs students to experience some of the high school rituals they normally miss, a small group of students ran with the idea.

After successfully entering a float in the homecoming parade, the Peer Influence club joined forces with a couple of staff members to organize a Valentine’s Day dance for the Life class, which has more than 20 kids with special needs and learning disabilities.

To prepare for the event, a field trip was planned to a local thrift store to buy the proper attire, a line dance was taught as part of physical education, and the students cooked their own desserts to serve.

Collin Parker, one of the senior organizers, labeled the dance a huge success and hopes more will follow.

“It was amazing to see all these kids out there dancing,” Parker said at the La Plata County Fairgrounds, where the dance was held Friday afternoon.

An awards ceremony culminated with the naming of a dance king and queen. One student from Ignacio and two Escalante students also came for the dance.

jstephenson@durangoherald.com

Participating in a line dance at the Peer Influence Valentine’s Day dance, Durango High School senior Michael Noel, left, dances with college freshman Jessi Wymore, while DHS sophomore Laura Lieb dances with senior Cameron Francis. Enlarge photo

JOSH STEPHENSON/Durango Herald

Participating in a line dance at the Peer Influence Valentine’s Day dance, Durango High School senior Michael Noel, left, dances with college freshman Jessi Wymore, while DHS sophomore Laura Lieb dances with senior Cameron Francis.