On Wednesday night, Nicole Reid and Siaoni Jackson, both 20, experienced a rite of passage they thought they’d given up when they dropped out of high school.
Earlier in the day, they got their hair done, their makeup just right, and then slipped into striking, matching champagne-colored dresses they had fretted over for weeks before…the big night.
So what if they weren’t graduating from the high school they once attended. So what if they had a lot more on their plates as single mothers than typical high school graduates. So what if they were pulling a straight-up Cinderella fairy tale on this weeknight, on borrowed time while relatives cared for their children.
Tonight was prom – and for a few blissful hours, they were going to savor every moment of it.
“I am ready to dance,” Jackson declared, eyeing the empty dance floor at the Ethical Society.
Here’s the thing about second chances: Wonderfully redemptive as they are, sometimes you miss out on milestones that come with doing things the first time around.
For instance, you drop out of high school but eventually get your GED, you might get a graduation ceremony, but chances are there’s no prom.
That’s how it was at the JEVS Human Services E3 program that helps 16- to 21-year-olds get their GEDs.
But this year, students decided a prom was in order, and the program set them up with free dresses and suits, for anyone who wanted them, free hair styling and makeup the day of the prom, and boutonnieres and corsages.
And why not? There should be a celebration of all these students have accomplished, all the obstacles they have overcome.
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