Dear Community,

WE DID IT!!!! On Saturday, March 11, Team Inclusive Prom held its very first Inclusive Prom for high school students across Acadiana. It was a glorious evening of fashion, dancing, smiles, and laughter from the students and the adult chaperones alike.

Walking into Wonderland Performing Arts that night was like a trip down the rabbit hole. Once the students got through the bag check at the door, they were greeted by the first of many photo opportunities including a giant size Cheshire Cat, graciously donated by The Mystic Krewe of Apollo de Lafayette. Registration was flawless thanks to our amazing volunteers. Approximately 85 tickets were reserved, and we had over 50 students in attendance. Walking down the foliage lined hallway to get to the dance floor, you were met with bread and butterflies hanging from the ceiling, tissue paper flowers in abundance, and a tunnel made out of vines. DJ Digital rocked the house all night while Alice in Wonderland clips played on the big screen.

Sweet 3 Bakery provided Alice in Wonderland themed sweet treats. Social Entertainment was there with their amazing photo booth, enjoyed by all. Rachel Rafati was our official photographer of the evening. Set up at our “royal throne” made by Dory Thomassie, she took pictures all night, ensuring everyone felt like Prom Royalty.

One of the biggest hits of the evening (and a last-minute addition), thanks to Alexandra Culotta, was our sensory room. She brought mats, pillows, blankets, and a noise machine for when things got too loud or overwhelming on the dance floor.

When all was said and done, we were about $300 over budget. In the grand scheme of things, we are VERY happy with how the event played out. We got great feedback and have already set a date for next year (March 9 in case you’re wondering). We have also had a “Prom Debrief” and have a number of lessons learned.

Going forward, we’ll be more intentional with our event. With more time to plan we’ll be able to look at options to save money, including venue, theme (decorations), etc. We’ll limit the number of adults we have in attendance, and we’re looking into branded merch per the request of many of the teens. We will keep the budget for 2024 the same ($4k) and will start fundraising immediately.

Special thanks to all of the volunteers who helped make this event such a success. Without your support, time, artistic ability, donations, food, and love for the community, none of this would be possible.

Acadiana Queer Collective is eternally grateful for the opportunity awarded by 24HCP and the community as a whole. These events and experiences continue to support our mission by creating safe spaces in Acadiana for the LGBTQ+ community. We look forward to seeing what the future has in store.

With Pride,

Team Inclusive Prom