Lone Peak High School students donned gowns and tuxes on April 24 as they celebrated prom at the State Capitol Building. Nothing abnormal.
The out-of-the-ordinary part began the next Friday night when more than 200 students dressed up once again to celebrate prom for a student who had missed out.
Audrey Rhodes, a student who has Aspergers and Schizoaffective disorder, was unable to attend what would have been her junior prom because she has been out of school this year while living in the Utah State Hospital. When Audrey kept mentioning to her mom, Midge Rhodes, that she was upset she was missing prom, Midge contacted Lone Peak about her plans to put together a small event with perhaps three couples, including her daughter.
“I was just so overwhelmed. These kids were the definition of compassion to do this for her and show her that they loved her. I cannot express how we feel today.” —Midge Rhodes
“When I contacted Lone Peak, they said, ‘You know there are going to be more than three couples who’ll want to participate,’” Midge said.
From there, the Lone Peak Student Council got the word out to students about the second prom on May 1 on Main Street in Alpine. The school’s administration helped to contact Audrey’s friend Tyler Hanks, who she chose as her prom date. Midge’s friends, family and strangers helped organize decorations, food and music to go along with the theme of “under the stars.”
“The right people showed up at the right time all day (Friday) to get this pulled off for her,” Midge said. “I’m still in shock that the whole thing went so well, and that we were able to do it and that it turned into such a great event.”
Since Audrey was in 2nd grade, Midge has made a special effort to help inform Audrey’s classmates about her mental illness — which, at the time, was Aspergers (it was later that Audrey developed Schizoaffective disorder). She also tries to show appreciation to Audrey’s classmates for being friends with her.
“The kids know her and love her, and they all wanted to be a part of this prom,” Midge said.
Audrey, who was named prom queen, thanked the students as they left for making her dreams come true. Midge is positive this is a night Audrey will always remember, especially since the attendees signed stars for Audrey to decorate her room.
“Audrey was so gracious, and it has been a while since I’ve seen her so connected,” Midge said. “I was just so overwhelmed. These kids were the definition of compassion to do this and show her they loved her. I cannot express how we feel today.”
Midge described the students at Lone Peak as great kids.
“People need to see that,” Midge said. “They are so good to each other and support each other.”
As May is Mental Health Awareness Month, Midge hopes people will become more aware and understanding of illnesses — whether physical or mental.
“Mentally ill kids need to have opportunities like this prom,” Midge said.