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7's HERO: VIP Hollywood Prom for students with special needs makes everyone feel like a star

Senior Annie Christensen and her Leadership Class at Mountain View High School planned the VIP Prom for students with special needs in the West Ada School District.

MERIDIAN, Idaho — Prom. It's a rite of passage in high school. The Leadership Class students at Mountain View High School (MVHS) wanted to make sure every student in the West Ada School District had that prom experience.

"Seeing them walk in the entrance and walking down the red carpet and and smiling all dressed up and just made me so happy," said Annie Christensen. 

MVHS Leadership Class student Annie Christensen was still glowing when we talked to her about the VIP Prom.

"It was so amazing," Christensen said. "It was held here at Mountain View in the main gym. We invited all the schools in the West Ada School District." 

Prom guests Elsie Matthews and Morgan Wood sat right next to her, also filled with excitement.

"It was so fun," Matthews said. 

The VIP Prom idea was postponed for the past couple of years during the pandemic, but Annie wanted special needs students in the district to finally get the night they deserved. 

"This year, me and a couple of friends in my leadership class just decided to see if we could make it happen," Christenson said. "We started planning things in January, so it was every day in class getting donations, and deciding a theme and food and getting the word out and things. We got money donated from Micron and ICCU, and that really helped us make all our dreams and plans come true!"

The Leadership Class went to work to plan the best prom ever. The theme was a VIP Night in Hollywood! The students were the stars. 

"It was definitely stressful leading up to it because it was such a big thing and we didn't know what to expect. But that night it was so amazing to actually see it all come together and everyone enjoying themselves and just seeing all their hard work pay off," Christensen said. 

Christensen and her team made sure it was a great atmosphere for everyone.

"There are lots of kids with special needs who don't like all the strobe lights and noise, everything is too much at the regular school prom," Christensen told KTVB. "For a lot of them this environment was a lot more comfortable and sensitive toward their needs. We had the lights on, there were no strobe lights, we had music but it wasn't crazy loud." 

The guests looked amazing, and they had the best time dancing the night away. 

"Being out on the dance floor with them, just dancing to their favorite songs and things like that it was just so much fun! There was one moment in the night when the song 'This is Me' from The Greatest Showman was playing, and the kids were just like singing it and dancing. At that moment I stood there and watched it all. I just see how amazing they are, and not everyone else gets to see that and not everyone gives them a chance. So these kids coming to this event knowing that they could be themselves was exactly what I wanted," Christensen said. 

Christensen is heading to BYU in Provo, Utah next year, and she already knows what she wants to study. Special Education. That's where her heart is!

"I'm really excited to get to go into that," Christensen said. 

As for next year, Christensen said there are already plans to bring the prom back. She knows it is in very good hands with the students here at Mountain View High. 

"We would just love to make sure that everyone knows about this opportunity, and everyone that wants to come is able to! I'm just already so excited for next year's VIP prom," Christensen said. 

Christensen wanted to thank all the generous people and businesses in our community that donated to this magical night.

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