An Arroyo Grande High School senior diagnosed with a brain tumor who was denied access to his own prom now may get to attend not one, but two proms.
Jared Springer, who was told he could not attend Arroyo Grande’s prom on May 7 because of extended absences as the result of a medical condition, was invited by two local girls to go to the San Luis Obispo High School prom on May 21.
San Luis Obispo High School students Belle Caffee and Grace Gilmore invited Springer on Wednesday. The two shared a photo on Facebook of them “promposing” to Springer with a box of SLO Donut Co. doughnuts, with “We do-nut want to go to prom with anyone else!” written inside the pink box and a sign reading “Jared SLO down with us at prom?”
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Caffee, who met Springer through their church’s youth group, said Springer is one of her best friends, and she was upset to learn that he wouldn’t be able to go to his own prom. She said the pair had actually talked about going to each others’ proms throughout this school year.
“A lot of people are treating this like we asked him to go out of charity, but we really just want to go with him,” she said. “It’s something we’ve been talking about most of our senior year.”
San Luis Obispo High School Principal Leslie O’Connor said Caffee approached him last week to ask if Springer could attend prom with her since he was going to be unable to attend his own.
“This was before I knew anything about him or before the media had mentioned anything about him,” O’Connor said. “She asked if she could invite him, and I said, ‘99 percent not an issue.’ We have a guest pass policy that we use for students from other schools, so I didn’t think it would be an issue. I told her to just let me talk with some people and firm up that response.”
O’Connor said he and Assistant Principal Nick Frost signed Springer’s guest pass, so he will definitely be allowed to attend with his father as a chaperone.
“We’re excited that Jared will get to take part in our prom,” O’Connor said. “Kids are kids. Life will happen later — there will be plenty more days of work for them ahead — so for high school, these days are precious.”
Caffee said when she and Gilmore — Springer’s original date to the Arroyo Grande High School prom — asked him to go with them, he at first thought they would face the same hurdles as his own prom.
“He told us he didn’t think he would be able to because of all the medical stuff again,” she said. “But his dad was like, ‘No, we’ve got this one.’ ... His whole face just lit up.”
Springer, who collapsed at school in 2014 because of a brain tumor and is in a wheelchair, was told by Lucia Mar Unified School District representatives late last week that he would not be allowed to attend prom with his classmates last Saturday because a broken hip had kept him out of classes for three weeks and because there were several procedures the family needed to complete to make an exception for Springer.
The district has since apologized for the decision, saying, “We failed to communicate this in a timely way, and we failed to provide a path that could have made Jared’s dream come true.”
Amid the backlash from a widely shared Facebook post from Springer’s parents, many in the community united to organize a replacement prom for the teen.
Brighten a Corner Ministry has planned a prom at Mountainbrook Community Church in San Luis Obispo on May 27 for Springer and has invited upperclassmen from Arroyo Grande, Central Coast New Tech, Coastal Christian, Mission Prep, Nipomo and San Luis Obispo high schools.
Caffee said she plans to attend both the San Luis Obispo high school and the Mountainbrook Church proms, and looks forward to spending the night celebrating with Springer.
“I get to walk into senior prom with my best friend,” she said. “I feel so honored to be given the opportunity to go with him, because he’s just so inspirational to everyone he meets.”