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Students work to bring prom to Lanier College & Career Academy
Nontraditional school to host dance for first time
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Renae Jackson, school counselor at Lanier College & Career Academy, and Claudia Perez, parent liaison at the academy, shop for decorations Thursday, April 19, 2018, at Party City in Gainesville in preparation for the academy's first prom. Jackson, Perez and others are working with a budget of $350 and are expecting 80-100 students to attend. - photo by David Barnes

There are a few things about high school that students look forward to, and prom is often near the top of that list.

But prom has not been offered at the nontraditional Lanier College and Career Academy. This year, students got together to make sure they didn’t miss out on the rite of passage.

LCCA will host its first-ever prom on Saturday, April 28, at The Oaks on the LCCA campus near Oakwood.

“A group of students came to me, and I decided to form a student council with that group,” said Renae Jackson, school counselor at LCCA. “So they are student leaders, and they took the idea and ran with it.”

The prom at LCCA will be like most, with a senior walk, prom king and queen and plenty of music and party favors for the nearly 100 guests Jackson expects.

One thing that will be different for the Hollywood-themed party will be the price, though. That was important for Jackson.

She said a lot of students at LCCA have jobs, and some even work through the night. She wanted to reduce the financial burden of prom.

“I really wanted to eliminate the financial burden for our students,” Jackson said. “And I said, ‘we’re at an advantage because we don’t have to go out and pay for a venue. We have a beautiful facility next door, so why not have it there?’ It really just worked.”

In the fall, students held a few fundraisers and collected about $1,000 to put toward prom. And on April 17, the group organized another fundraiser that raised $1,500 more. With those efforts, all students at LCCA can attend for free and their guests will pay $10.

“It’s our senior year,” said Marcela Nogueras, a member of student council. “It’s everything you wish for since eighth grade. It’s what you look up to the entire time.”

Nogueras said most of the students have been supportive and are excited they will have the chance to go to prom. Being part of the student council group that organized it makes it even better for her because she feels like she's been part of change in the school.

“Now it’s more of a thing and people want to be in it now,” Nogueras said of student council. “We’re really doing what student council really means, and that’s really good for the rest of the school. I know people like my sister are going to continue that, and the rest of the students are going to see that.”

Jackson said she is excited to watch students take leadership roles more seriously  as they see the ways they can bring change to the school.

She’s hoping prom is one of the changes that sticks around.

“I’m hoping that this won't just be something that occurs this year,” Jackson said. “Yes, we’re a college and career academy. Yes we're nontraditional. But you can look forward to our prom. No, we don’t have a football team. No, we don’t have a basketball team. But we have a prom, and I’m hoping it can be a success on an annual basis.”

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