St. Vincent’s special needs students groove at disco-themed prom in Trumbull

TRUMBULL — Outside the walls of St. Vincent’s Special Needs Services, it was 2022. But inside many of the classroom at the building at 95 Merritt Blvd., it was some time in the 1970s.

Disco balls hung from the ceiling. The songs of such artists as the Bee Gees and Blondie blared triumphantly. And staff and students at the facility — which provides services for children and adults with multiple developmental disabilities and complex medical needs — donned bell bottom pants, sequins, curly wigs and a variety of other fashions popular in the disco era.

This trip back in time was part of the St. Vincent’s Special Needs school prom, a dance for older students at the program’s school, which took place on Friday.

“High school students have proms, so our students do, too,” said education director Karen King.

The prom has long been a staple at the school, though it’s been heavily restricted in the past two years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, King said. This year, she said, the prom was closer to what it was in pre-COVID times, though staff were still masked and family members couldn’t attend as they could before COVID.

There were actually two proms on Friday, one in the morning and one in the afternoon. Some students attended one and some attended the other. King said the prom is open to students 15 and older, and roughly 40 students were eligible for this year’s prom.

St. Vincent’s Special Needs is part of Hartford HealthCare, the network that also includes St. Vincent’s Medical Center in Bridgeport. Those who use the special needs program have a variety of disabilities, such as cerebral palsy, acute brain injury, neuromuscular disorders and autism spectrum disorders. Each year, more than 400 children, adults and their families receive services from the organization.

Friday’s event had all the hallmarks of any other prom, including dancing and a theme — the disco era, of course. Friday morning, staff and students alike seemed to embracing the theme, twirling to the music in big jewelry, platform shoes and the like.

Students who attended this year included Cionee Miles, 17, who said she was enjoying herself.

“I love the dancing,” she said.

She was with educational assistant Dawn D’Angelo, who was happy to see the prom back in full force.

“It’s one of the biggest events of our year,” she said.

King said the event is a fun time for everyone, and it’s great that St. Vincent’s Special Needs was able to provide, not just for the students, but for their teachers and caregivers too.

“I always say we have the best students, but we also have the best staff,” she said.