Kentucky

Donations make tornado-ravaged county's prom 'hard to top'

Magoffin County students gathered around a DJ booth donated by Lexington police officers Jason Wallace and Josh Mitchell.Magoffin County students gathered around a DJ booth donated by Lexington police officers Jason Wallace and Josh Mitchell.
Magoffin County students gathered around a DJ booth donated by Lexington police officers Jason Wallace and Josh Mitchell.Magoffin County students gathered around a DJ booth donated by Lexington police officers Jason Wallace and Josh Mitchell.

Following a tornado that destroyed and damaged homes, businesses and schools in Salyersville, it wasn't likely Magoffin County students would have the best prom ever.

But that's exactly what happened, school officials said, thanks to an army of volunteers and numerous donations.

More than 360 tickets were sold to the Magoffin County High School prom May 5. It was the highest turnout in history, said Cathy Sparks, a family and consumer sciences teacher who helped organize the event.

"It was a prom that will be hard to top," she said.

Students who normally couldn't have afforded to go to prom were able to this year, thanks to donations such as tuxedos, dresses, flowers and food. About 30 percent of the county's residents live below the poverty line.

Even the music was donated. Two Lexington police officers, Jason Wallace and Josh Mitchell, pitched in to help as disc jockeys.

When they're not patrolling Lexington's central sector, Wallace and Mitchell run Pure Sound and Entertainment from their homes, hauling sound and lighting equipment to parties, weddings and festivals.

Magoffin County's prom was one of their biggest venues, Mitchell said, requiring lots of equipment.

"Loading the trailer is kind of a feat in and of itself," he said.

Mitchell said it was inspiring to see the students having fun.

"From what we are hearing from faculty and even students, it was the best prom they have ever had," he said. "The appreciation was obvious."

The officers originally offered their services in Morgan County, where much of the county seat of West Liberty was leveled by the March 2 tornado. However, Morgan County had already contracted with a DJ and passed the offer to neighboring Magoffin County.

The same tornado went on to Salyersville in Magoffin County, missing downtown by about a mile but destroying homes, government buildings and businesses near the Mountain Parkway.

The elementary and middle schools were damaged, but the high school was mostly unscathed, Sparks said. One of the first questions students asked when they returned was, "Are we going to have a prom?"

"Teenagers, they are more immediate," Sparks said. "They see the immediate concerns rather than seeing the long term."

It was important to restore normalcy for the students, some of whom had lost their homes and after-school jobs to the twister. School officials assured them prom would go on as planned and began asking for donations.

The response was overwhelming.

Mary Kay Makeup Studios in Lexington set up a studio in a classroom where girls could get makeovers before the big dance. Lundy's Catering from Lexington donated hors d'oeuvres and refreshments.

Razzle Dazzle Boutique in Frankfort donated corsages, boutonnières and dresses. Parkway Florist in Clay City helped with tuxedo rentals and partnered with the Kentucky Florists Association to provide live-cut flowers for centerpieces on all the tables.

Sparks seemed especially moved by the flowers.

"That's an unheard of possibility for us financially to come up with cut flowers like that," she said with a quiver in her voice. "It was just beautiful."

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