Olivia Ali/ Nevada Sagebrush
Attendees are greeted by Blue Key Honor Society members at the door of the Joy Prom event on Saturday, April 28. Joy Prom is an event for WCSD students with physical and cognitive disabilities.

As prom season rolls around, the University of Nevada, Reno’s Blue Key Honor Society made sure every student had a night to remember.

Hundreds of volunteers from the Blue Key Honor Society and other organizations gathered at the Terry Lee Wells Discovery Museum to hold the fourth annual Joy Prom. The event is an alternative to a typical school prom for disabled students aged 14 to 22 in the Washoe County School District.

“Joy Prom is a free event for students in the Washoe County School District with physical and cognitive disabilities,” event organizers wrote on the Joy Prom website. “The event serves as an additional opportunity for these students to experience a typical prom night full of fun, music, and dancing!”

The theme of the event was “Around the World.” Around the museum, tables represented various countries such as Sweden, Italy and Austria. Each table was hosted by a Washoe County School District high school. Each table provided some sort of entertainment for students, such as treats, games or swag.

The event modeled a school prom by inviting students to dance in one of the main exhibits upstairs, complete with a DJ and flashing disco lights.

Dinner and dessert were provided to students and their families throughout the night as well.

According to event organizer and Blue Key Honor Society member Melissa Rast, an event such as Joy Prom is critical for students with disabilities.

“It is important because it allowed this population of students to have fun in an environment that they can feel comfortable in and give the prom experience to those students who otherwise might not otherwise attend prom,” Rast said.

According to Rast, the response from the community has been positive and made the event a joy to plan.

“We love this event and are thrilled that our community loves it too,” Rast said. “It’s been amazing to see how much people want to be involved and we look forward to planning the next Joy Prom in 2019!”

Washoe County School District Office of Student Services, the Blue Key Honor Society and JROTC hosted Joy Prom. Hundreds of volunteers made the event possible by assisting with production.

Joy Prom is free to all students of the Washoe County School District.

Several companies sponsored the event, such as Safeway, Dolan Auto Group and Raley’s.

Joy Prom in Reno was first held in 2015, hosted by the Blue Key Honor Society.

“We are proud to host this special event annually for WCSD special needs students,” Anita Albanese, former Blue Key Honor Society President wrote on the Joy Prom website prior to the 2018 event. “I’ve personally been involved for all three years that the event has been held, and have enjoyed every minute of it. Being able to provide this additional opportunity for the students is truly a joy.”

Olivia Ali can be reached at karolinar@sagebrush.unr.edu and on Twitter @NevadaSagebrush.