VINTON–Like many of the junior and senior girls at William Byrd High School, Kearah LaMonde spent most of Saturday afternoon focused on her hair and make-up getting ready for the Junior/Senior Prom.
While Kearah faced a few more challenges than most and had a few more dates accompanying her to the dance, she was brimming with excitement and absolutely stunning as she left for prom, held this year at the Sheraton Hotel.
Going along with her were her teacher Amy Boush and Ruth Overfelt. Boush teaches the FACES (Functional Academic Curriculum for Exceptional Students) program at WBHS and Overfelt is an instructional assistant. Overfelt’s husband Joe also attended the prom which he said was his first.
The idea for Kearah attending the prom came up at a doctor’s appointment in February where she was being prescribed a new state-of-the-art wheelchair. Her mother, Chrystal LaMonde, mentioned that Kearah would like to attend the prom. Her teachers thought they could make it happen. A team formed to make it a reality.
“So many faculty and staff here at WBHS contributed—just an example of the spirit here in Vinton and the WBHS community,” said Boush.
One of the first steps was finding a prom dress. The team located several for her to choose from and she decided–based on her favorite color—on a plum-colored satin and chiffon. Overfelt made alterations and brought in some “bling” choices.
Kearah made her selections for adding “sparkle” to the gown. Fittings were completed at the school. On one occasion Kearah cried when she had to take the dress off, thinking she was missing the prom. Her teachers then made a calendar for her to mark off the days until May 9.
Vicky Carrell, the administrative assistant at William Byrd, facilitated transportation with Principal Dr. Richard Turner and Mike Stovall, Director of Transportation, both to Overfelt’s house in Mount Pleasant to dress for the prom and to and from the Sheraton.
Hairdresser Sha Campbell created some curls and added more sparkle for her hair. Her manicure included “Midnight in Moscow” nail polish which matched her dress. Julia Webster, a WBHS graduate, did her make-up.
During the hair and make-up process, Kearah’s team was settling on a tune for her introduction at the prom. They decided on “Get the Party Started” by Pink and on some introductory remarks.
“The next song is in honor of a wonderful young lady who will be graduating William Byrd High School this year,” wrote Overfelt. “She is constantly amazing everyone she comes into contact with and has never met a person she does not like. She has a beautiful smile that lights up any room she comes into.”
After her introduction, the Senior Class was to be invited to join her on the dance floor. Boush predicted that most likely given her “sassiness” Kearah would be spinning 360’s in her new wheelchair, which she has quickly mastered.
Before they left for the prom, there were photos with the family, including sister Solana who was also attending the prom, and with her WBHS support team.
Kearah wore a corsage of sweetheart roses, delivered to WBHS on Friday, a gift from a member of Carrell’s church.
Tables were in short supply at the hotel when they arrived, but four students invited them to join their party and were “more than welcoming” throughout the evening.
Overfelt said that once the dancing began and Kearah was introduced, it was a little overwhelming at first, but she soon got into the spirit. “She was so excited to see all the other girls’ dresses and flowers, too.”
Her sister walked the traditional Senior Walk with her.
Overfelt said that the experience was even more than they all hoped it would be and that she and Boush “didn’t know who had the better time, Kearah or us.”
“Words can’t describe our feelings when we saw her face,” said Overfelt, who got a big hug from Kearah on the trip home.
Kearah lives in the Mount Pleasant area where she attended Mount Pleasant Elementary School, and then William Byrd Middle and High Schools.
“She wants to go to school every day,” said her mother.
It’s easy to see why, given the loving care she receives there and the love she gives back.