Student shine at special night

Published 5:32 pm Monday, January 20, 2020

The feeling of joy echoed through the LaGrange High Gym Friday night. 

For the third year, the LHS hosted its annual Special Night basketball ball game, but this time with a twist. 

Previously called Special Night for Special Grangers, the Special Night Building Community basketball game hosted special-needs students from all three area high schools — Troup, Callaway and LaGrange — to be the stars of the game. 

“I knew the night would be a success because of the students that brought us together,” said Mitzi Norton, organizer of the event and a team member of the exceptional education program at LHS. “I must say this year exceeded my expectations. My only concern was how much joy can you withstand in one building, and I think Friday night we found out, as we hosted Special Night Building Community. It was truly an amazing night, and you could feel the energy beyond the boys gym.” 

For the past few months, the administration, staff and volunteers have worked tirelessly to prepare for the event. So have the special needs students, who practiced weekly in the gym to prepare. 

Norton said that the administration team is extremely passionate about meeting the needs of all students, and they go above and beyond for students with special needs. 

“Having leaders and teachers and staff who pour into making a night like Special Night possible reminds me how fortunate I am to serve and be a part of LaGrange High School,” Norton said. “Felicia Moneypenny and Craig Mobley, two of my team members, they worked countless hours over the past several months preparing for this event.” 

The three schools united their colors to build awareness for students with special needs. 

“United we are stronger in bringing about change and awareness,” Norton said. “Let’s bridge the gap as a community for all of our students. It was truly a magical event, and the effort that goes into it is a team effort.”

More than 60 students volunteered to help with the event, including a few of the members of the boy’s LHS basketball team, who played alongside the students in the game. 

“Special Night revealed more purpose than ever before,” Norton said. “As I looked out into the stands … I recognized a former LHS basketball player who served as a support in one of our previous Special Night events. His role in supporting students with special needs last year was his first time truly interacting with students with disabilities.”

Norton said she watched last year the student be hesitant at first, but then progress in enthusiasm as the game went on. 

“That once hesitant young man was embracing and celebrating our students in the moment,” Norton said. “To see this young man now, a LaGrange High School graduate, come back and support this event reflects even more so what this night is all about.”

Norton said the event gave the students a night to shine. 

“It allows for others to grow,” Norton said. “It allows students to come together, regardless the differences and truly celebrate one another. They have a light within them that

that is present every day. This allows us not to be distracted and to recognize,

just how much they have to offer.” 

Even though the event just ended, Norton said she is already starting to plan next year’s Special Night and hopes to include all three schools again. 

“I honestly loved seeing all of our school colors over there with the cheerleaders,” Norton said. “That was powerful to me because you don’t see that very often. I’m blessed to work with all of those that I work with.”