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“Celebrating them”: Inaugural prom held for area non-traditional students, foster youth
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Nyah Moore and her daughter, Zymora Thrower, smile while filming a commemorative video during Total Victory Family Services’ first annual prom for non-traditional students, held on March 11 at Dawsonville’s Bowen Center for the Arts. - photo by Julia Hansen

About two dozen teenagers and their friends recently gathered for a one-of-a-kind prom in Dawson County.

This story continues below.

Gainesville-based nonprofit Total Victory Family Services hosted an inaugural prom for area non-traditional students and foster youth at Dawsonville’s Bowen Center for the Arts Saturday. 

Sisters in Stilettos, a woman empowerment group from Pennsylvania, attended the event and also sponsored one of the teen mothers, purchasing all of her prom wear.

The evening’s upbeat event allowed attendees to hang out over a hearty Italian meal, pose for fun-filled pictures and then move and groove their hearts out on the dance floor. 

Attendees were also given party favor bags before leaving the prom.

Much of the entertainment centered around the dance floor, where teens and adults alike gleefully took part in dances like the “Cupid Shuffle” or the “Wobble.”

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Total Victory Family Services Director Crystal Toombs, center, dances with other prom attendees during a rendition of the popular “Cupid Shuffle Dance.” - photo by Julia Hansen

Attendees also flocked to Gwinnett County-based business Simply 360’s full-circle video booth. 

The 360-degree camera setup allowed people to take the circular stage and show off their best or most heartfelt dance moves to a revolving camera and ring light, made popular on social media apps like TikTok. 

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Two prom attendees eagerly watch the playback of their custom dance video at the Simply 360 camera booth. - photo by Julia Hansen

Total Victory Family Services Director Dr. Crystal Toombs explained that her organization helps minister to youth and young mothers across Georgia who want to keep their children. The nonprofit provides services like long-term housing and mentoring to allow young women to finish their high school-level schooling and grow their future education and job prospects, according to the organization’s website. 

Toombs shared that the prom idea came about when one of her program’s teen moms finished her diploma at a credit recovery school.

“When I asked them, ‘Hey, she did so well. Are you doing a prom? I want to get her ready’…they told me ‘no,’” Toombs said.

The girl tried attending prom at her old school but wasn’t able to since she was no longer a student there, and friends still attending already had plus-one guests. 

So, Toombs didn’t skip a beat and began planning the unique prom opportunity, inviting other area organizations like New Gainesville and Cumming-based shelter Jesse’s House, which serves teenage girls in foster care.

As part of the preparations, Toombs also reached out to Hall and Dawson County Family Services and other organizations.

“We just wanted to celebrate them,” Toombs said of non-traditional students like those served by her nonprofit. 

Madison Roberts, a human services professional with Jesse’s House, met Toombs at a foster parent panel several months ago, where one of the latter nonprofit’s residents shared her experiences while representing DCFS Region 2.

“I was like, that’d be a great opportunity,” Roberts said of the prom event, “because not all of our girls get to go to dances or anything because of their age and stuff.”

For Toombs, Saturday’s event was another way to support youth and young mothers in need.

“We’re trying to change the lives of young ladies, just one young lady at a time.”