VRS students party for prom at SSU


By Kasie McCreary - [email protected]



Gampp, VRS students, and other volunteers decorated SSU's ballrooms so that students could party in style.

Gampp, VRS students, and other volunteers decorated SSU's ballrooms so that students could party in style.


Gampp (pictured L) and VRS student Maxwell Edwards enjoy the festivities at a past prom celebration. Photo courtesy of Melissa Gampp.


VRS students test out their photo backdrop as they prepare for prom.


PORTSMOUTH—Students of the Vern Riffe School (VRS) are ready to party as their prom celebration heads to Shawnee State University.

Melissa Gampp, an intervention specialist with VRS, inherited the task of planning prom shortly after her time teaching at VRS began. She knew that the event meant the world to her students.

“It is an opportunity for our students to participate in a traditional prom event, just like their typical peers, and to have an event in their community just like at any public school. It’s been a wonderful experience—for the students and for us,” she explained.

According to information from their website, VRS has provided school services to children with developmental disabilities in Scioto County since 1953. A curriculum which values functional independence allows students to possess valuable tools for success after graduation.

After a long school year and an even longer pandemic, Gampp says that students and staff are looking forward to celebrating and cutting loose. Some of her students even pitched in to help set up their event.

“We are so excited to return to a more traditional event.” Gampp added: “We started [in previous years] bringing some of the kids in to help a little bit with the setup and décor process to their abilities. We did that until Covid put a stop to things, and now here we are again.”

Students from VRS will celebrate their return to prom throughout the duration of a school day, arriving in the morning for breakfast, then preparing for grand march. Their families will watch from the ballroom as the students emerge in their formal looks for photographs.

Following the students’ red carpet moment complete with photos taken by Impressive Studios, it’s time to say goodbye to their families for the day, and party down.

With one student having her dress picked out for a year now, Gampp knows it’s important to also make the event as stress-free as possible for students and their families:

“We try to do this at little to no cost for every student. We have an entire prom closet with formal-wear that has been donated over the years, and so we make that available to all of the students if they need that. The cosmetology class from the [Scioto County Career Technical Center] comes out and they offer to do hair and makeup. It’s the sweetest. They’ve been doing this for several years for us, and we really appreciate their time and their services.”

VRS students look forward to the rich, formal experience the event provides, and community support enhances the students’ night. McManus Catering, for example, has catered a dining experience that attendees won’t soon forget.

“We try to make it a formal event with a sit-down meal, with real silverware and glasses, to have a catered dining event that they wouldn’t otherwise have the opportunity to have,” Gampp states.

Such an anticipated event is bound to put pressure on its organizers. But Gampp is grateful to those in the community who are generous with their time, talents, and space to help give VRS students a magical day.

“We couldn’t be more pleased to be here, and to be working with Shawnee State, Kara [Stump, Director of Alumni and Community Events with SSU], and her team here,” she says.

“It’s been a very stressful week, but every bit of it is worth it in the end.”

Gampp, VRS students, and other volunteers decorated SSU’s ballrooms so that students could party in style.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_VRS1.jpgGampp, VRS students, and other volunteers decorated SSU’s ballrooms so that students could party in style.

Gampp (pictured L) and VRS student Maxwell Edwards enjoy the festivities at a past prom celebration. Photo courtesy of Melissa Gampp.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_VRS3.jpgGampp (pictured L) and VRS student Maxwell Edwards enjoy the festivities at a past prom celebration. Photo courtesy of Melissa Gampp.

VRS students test out their photo backdrop as they prepare for prom.
https://www.portsmouth-dailytimes.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/28/2022/05/web1_VRS2.jpgVRS students test out their photo backdrop as they prepare for prom.

By Kasie McCreary

[email protected]

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved

Reach Kasie McCreary at (740) 353-3101 ext. 1931, or by email at [email protected]

© 2022 Portsmouth Daily Times, all rights reserved