Students from all three Hilliard high schools collaborated last weekend to help more than 100 special-needs students from all over central Ohio have a memorable prom experience.

The annual Special Needs Prom, an event organized by the Davidson High School Key Club with support from students involved in National Honor Society and other organizations at Bradley, Darby and Davidson, was April 29 at Davidson High School.

"It's almost a yearlong process but it's all worth it," said Lia Ferguson, a member of the Davidson Key Club who led the planning for the Special Needs Prom.

Throughout the school year, she and other students solicited donations for the event from restaurants and arranged for the entertainment, photography and decorations.

A model of the iconic mountainside Hollywood sign in front of Davidson illustrated the prom's theme, "The Stars Come Out at Night."

Most of the estimated 130 attendees were high school students but some were graduates or were invited through Northwest Special Olympics.

Students attending the prom came from all three high schools in Hilliard and Dublin, as well as Franklin Heights, Central Crossing, Grandview Heights, Marysville, New Albany, Olentangy Liberty, and Thomas Worthington high schools.

It was the largest turnout to date since Davidson hosted the first Special Needs Prom 11 years ago, Ferguson said.

Davidson Key Club members founded the event in 2007. The Key Club is a student organization affiliated with Kiwanis International.

Among those attending was Sydney Lagamba, 17, a sophomore at Franklin Heights who said she was there "to hang out and have fun."

Each student is paired with a host student. Sydney's host was Darby freshman Zahra Khuhro.

Zahra was among the cadre of students who arrived at Davidson in the early afternoon to make preparations for the evening.

She said she accepted the invitation of a friend in Davidson's Key Club to serve as a student host.

"It's been a great experience," Zahra said.

Davidson's Key Club adviser is Sam Stille.

"(The students) did everything," Stille said. "They've been here since noon."

Davidson principal Aaron Cookson said he considers the event of the most meaningful programs that Davidson students present.

"The Key Club does an amazing job from top to bottom. It's one of most special events and such a happy and special night for so many students," Cookson said.

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