For the first time in Waukegan High School history, thanks to one man’s idea, Special Education students enjoyed a night to remember: PROM.
Mr. Mark Klemm, a retired career carpenter has been running a special needs route at Illinois Central for the last 3 years. On April 17, 2013 he delivered a celebration for the students he’s fallen in love with: “The kids are like 46 more grandkids to me right now, we’ve got a real nice bond,” said Mark explaining why he felt the kids deserved this dance.
The idea itself started as just a small dance on a patio for the kids, to give them some fun. “My two sisters said, ‘Think big or go home,’ so from that point on we started planning a prom,” Mr. Klemm said. The planning started in September of 2012 and the cause received donations from 10 different states, at least 12 to 15 businesses that are mostly local, as well as clothing donations consisting of a suit for a boy and a dress for a girl. Mark and his team raised more than enough money, and planned on donating the extra money to the Waukegan Park District Special Recreation so the kids can do summer programs.
While only Brookside students participated in the Special Education Prom this year, Mr. Klemm says, “As long as the school is behind us as they were this year, I hope we can do it again for the special needs students at both Brookside and the special needs students at Washington Campus as well.” This whole thing was sort of an experiment to see how well it would go and from the looks of it, “Our trial and error worked pretty good!” said Mr. Klemm.
Mr. Klemm’s daughter, Dana Klemm is the head of the student council at Warren Township High School and brought some of her student council members to help decorate Bonnie Brae Country Club, the site for the prom. Waukegan High School’s Asian Club as well as the JROTC attended to show support and help out.