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RHS students attend Night to Shine

Each year the Tim Tebow Foundation helps churches across the country celebrate people with special needs, and this year students from Russellville High School joined others from Lauderdale and Colbert counties in the Shoals Night to Shine.

Night to Shine allows people with special needs to have a prom night experience surrounded by people focused on helping them shine.

“It was everything that I expected it to be and more,” said Russellville History Club sponsor Kim Burney.

Burney said every year the history club participates in a service project, and this year she and her students decided to dedicate their time to Night to Shine. She said this was her first experience with the event, but the experience already has her and her students planning to attend next year.

There were 18 students from Russellville High School who attended the event. In order to be involved, participants must be 16 or older and go through one hour of specialized training to prepare to work with people who have special needs.

Students returned to school one night after school hours to meet with event organizers for Night to Shine and learn more about the event.

In addition to training, a background check was required for each participant.

Burney said the entire event was well organized. Guests arrived to a red carpet entrance, and in addition to their best for attire, each wore a badge with his or her name on it and disability or special needs written on the back, so those helping would know how to properly accommodate them.

Some students were “buddies” and danced with guests, and other students helped with name badges and pinning corsages on attendees.

“I think they were able to realize the importance of putting other people and their needs ahead of themselves,” Burney said.

She said to a lot of students, the event was an eye opener to how much fun it can be to love other people despite differences.

Burney said after the event, she had several students tell her Night to Shine was more fun than their own prom.

“It was just so much fun to be involved with,” Burney said. “The students are already excited for the chance to participate again next year.”