By CLARK MASON
THE PRESS DEMOCRAT
Victoria Cahill enjoyed her high school prom so much, she decided to organize one for students who don’t ordinarily get to go.
She’s putting on a prom for special needs kids in Sonoma County as part of her senior project at Windsor High School.
“My brother has autism,” she said of the personal connection that inspired her to stage the upcoming event on Feb. 22.
“I just loved my prom. It was really fun last year, something I really looked forward to,” she said. “I thought it was something these kids should be able to experience too — a high school experience they shouldn’t miss out on.”
It’s easier said than done. Victoria has secured a venue at Vineyard of Faith Church in Windsor, along with lights and a deejay, who is donating his services.
But she’s still still looking for help for dresses, tuxedos, corsages, boutonnieres, desserts and beverages. And she needs to pay for insurance coverage.
“A couple days ago I went around to ask for donations. I don’t have funds now. I came in contact with a girl who gives dresses to underprivileged girls. She said she would donate,” she said.
Her teachers have confidence that she can pull it off.
“She’s a very intelligent and driven young lady,” said Barney Kaufman, who teaches a business class in Windsor High’s Vineyard Academy. “I definitely think she would have the tenacity and drive to do something like this.”
Victoria is getting word of the prom out to special needs kids in various school districts through a connection at the Sonoma County Office of Education.
She’s anticipating somewhere between 50 to 100 attendees at the prom, ranging in age from 14 to 22 years old.
The theme is “Under the Sea,” and she’s hoping to get the high school art academy involved in making decorations.
Victoria said she heard of another special needs prom that was held in Texas and she asked for some advice from the organizers there.
The project is part of her enrollment in Windsor High’s Vineyard Academy which focuses on the tourism and hospitality sectors. Putting on a prom is relevant to event planning.
Victoria is a lifelong resident of Windsor and has gone through public schools, other than a stint at Windsor Christian Academy from fifth through eighth grades.
She has a 4.1 grade point average and is taking honors classes in English and chemistry.
She works six to eight hours a week doing housekeeping and other chores for an accountant.
She’s done volunteer work fostering feral cats and kittens and participated in a church-organized annual Spring Clean, a community sprucing up in Windsor.
She’s also been a volunteer at various athletic/charity events such as Relay for Life, the Vineman Triathlon and Barb’s Race. And she volunteered teaching children with disabilities in Top Soccer, a program at Sports City in Santa Rosa.
Victoria has applied to 10 colleges and been accepted at five so far. She favors St. Mary’s College in Moraga and expects to find out soon whether she was accepted.
She hopes that after the special needs prom in February there will be another one, in 2015.
“Hopefully, someone will continue it the next year for their senior project,” she said.