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Wheeler Farm prom brings students together for the first time

Jun 06, 2023 01:32PM ● By Peri Kinder

Students from Utah Connections Academy put on their best dresses and nicest suits to attend a prom on May 12 at Wheeler Farm (6351 S. 900 East) in Murray. Like other teens their age, they were excited to spend the night dancing and socializing. But unlike other high school students, these youth had never met in person before. 

Utah Connections Academy is an online school for kids across the state in grades K-12, so while the students had interacted online, this was their first time meeting face-to-face.

Magna resident Autumn Garris, 19, is a senior at the academy where she has attended for nine years. She helped promote the prom by creating fliers and encouraging classmates to attend. Garris enjoyed getting dressed up to attend her first prom and making in-person connections. 

“I don’t do a lot of school and community things so this is my only chance to interact with everyone,” she said. “I’ve never met them. I wanted to meet them. I’m actually extremely grateful. This is a big thing for me. I wanted to have a fun night with people I actually care about.”

For Ava Scow, 18, the school has been a great experience. She said with her ADHD and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the online academy eliminates distractions, bullying and high school drama. Scow wants to study ballet and education when she attends college and hopes to pursue a career as a professional ballet dancer.

Scow, a senior and Sandy resident, also served on the prom committee. She looked forward to bringing students together in a new way. 

“It’s been a blast,” Scow said. “I’ve never met any of these kids before so it’s about making new friends and connections.”

Utah Connections Academy school counselor and prom coordinator Meggan Hansen was happy to have the prom back on the schedule. “With COVID the last two years, we haven’t done prom, so the students were really excited to get together and have that high school experience of prom.”

The academy’s mission is to maximize possibilities for its students who choose not to attend a traditional school. With flexible class schedules, specialized support for those with learning challenges and a supportive environment, Utah Connections Academy fills a void for students who need an alternative to in-person classes.

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