Parents of special needs U-46 graduates organizing own prom

For years, South Elgin High School graduate Natalie Herrera has attended Elgin Area School District U-46's prom for students and alumni of its special education and transition programs.

Roughly 120 students, alumni, teachers and administrators from U-46's five high schools participated in last year's 11th annual Spring Fling hosted by the South Elgin Special Education transition program. Participants purchase tickets to cover food and entertainment costs.

Organizers this year decided to limit prom to current students, similar to other events and activities at U-46 schools.

"Those organizing this event want to ensure (it) remains special to current students who are all 21 and under," U-46 spokeswoman Mary Fergus said. "All graduates are always welcome to attend school alumni events."

Disappointment with this decision has prompted two South Elgin moms to organize their own prom to keep the tradition alive for alumni with special needs.

"The kids, after they graduate, so many of them they don't do anything. This is something that year after year they greatly look forward to," said Kim Herrera, of South Elgin, 27-year-old Natalie's mother. "(Alumni) have been invited to all the proms since it started. There's 30 alumni just from South Elgin."

  Natalie Herrera of South Elgin at a past prom for students and alumni of U-46's special education and transition programs. Brian Hill/

Herrera hopes to reach out to alumni from the other four U-46 high schools but said, "getting the information out to the other alumni parents is difficult."

Parents volunteering to organize the event will meet soon to finalize a date and location for the prom - either May 5 at the Bartlett Hills Golf Club and Banquets or May 19 at Villa Olivia in Bartlett. Each venue requires a minimum number - between 40 and 50 - of participants. The event will include dinner, dance and a DJ, Herrera said.

Parents of alumni interested in participating can contact Herrera at or Cathy Keith at (630) 213-9258 for details.

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