Last week I heard a story Global News ran about a high school senior who was not being permitted to attend prom with the rest of her class. This struck a cord with me, not only because I didn’t go to my own prom, but I didn’t really even try. Also, because of the reason she couldn’t go.
I am always interested in learning about other rare diseases out there besides the one I have and how life with such diseases affects others. I know what it is like and it isn’t easy to deal with such things. I had heard a little bit about Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome before. All I heard now was how this girl had been off school all year, battling the debilitating symptoms, and because of this, the school felt she had not been a regular student; thus, she was being barred from experiencing a milestone event with her friends.
I don’t often think about my own experience with missing my prom. I wouldn’t say I regret it necessarily, but I do have my moments where I wonder about what it would have been like to get all dressed up and to dance with my friends and maybe even a date, but we’ll never know now.
I know what it’s like to have my high school years altered. I was suddenly dealing with daily chronic pain. This made attending school all day everyday increasingly impossible.
By the time I reached my senior year I was only attending school a few hours a day, if that; more like a few hours a week. I was down to completing half the credits required to graduate after four years.
This senior is dealing with a condition which causes her joints to disconnect from simple tasks such as opening a refrigerator door or, as is the case for schoolwork, typing on a keyboard. She has only completed half the credits necessary for graduation, just like me. Her pain has caused her to do all her courses online. She must attend adult education classes to get her diploma; such programs don’t offer senior proms.
It gets harder and harder to feel like you are anything like your peers when you have no real choice but to do things a different way. Certain rights are taken away once you become less than a full-time student. Prom goes along with graduation as far as senior privileges are concerned.
After four years of hard work and struggle there are no breaks being given to this girl. She shouldn’t have to miss out on something so important to her. I didn’t fight for my own right to go to my prom, but Heaven help anyone who stands in this girl’s way of a memory she deserves to have to look back on for the rest of her life, a right-of-passage she can never get back.
These days many students fall through the cracks because they are in need of special help. Certain exceptions must be made when the situation calls for it, but our school system isn’t set up to deal with this. Students like this young woman deserve to have people who are willing to break the rules and fight for what is right.
Two years before my senior year I watched as my sister and the rest of her prom committee planned their senior prom. She was busy for months planning the theme and the decorations. Her and her friends had a limo and everything. It all looked like so much fun.
Two years later I was in no position to participate in my own prom. I didn’t even let my mind go there and wasn’t even considering fighting for some rights I don’t even know if I would have been denied. It didn’t even occur to me at the time. I had fallen way to far behind in so much of my high school experience, in so many other ways. I didn’t feel like a senior or even a student by that time. I barely felt a part of anything anymore.
This girl hasn’t been slacking off and ditching school to go smoke in some parking lot. She did not choose to have this syndrome or to let it ruin her time with her friends and peers. She couldn’t even go as someone else’s guest. I don’t know who it was working at her school board that made this decision, but they are just plain wrong.
I heard this story and immediately felt for this young St. Catherine’s Catholic school student. I missed out on my prom, but regardless of whether or not I missed out on something important, she shouldn’t have to. I hope the attention to this story will be enough to make the right people change their tunes; or else, if not, I hope they can live with themselves. Sure, she will persevere and continue to fight her illness and do great things with her future, no real harm done in the long run. However, some experiences will never ever come around again.