BV’s Best Buddies make first-ever prom a night to remember

Jill Meie,r Journal editor

BVHS seniors Kylie Foss and Jeremiah Donahoe escort their Best Buddy, Mo Akhwani, through the grand march. 


Tessa Bowar, Dawson Pritchett and Emily Small are all smiles for the cameras.


Lillian Dirksen (from left), Rachel Spencer, Izzy Stone and Landon Dulaney accompanied their Best Buddy, Andrew Knutson (center) to the Best Buddies Prom. 


Joey Anders and Mary Kolbeck create a “bridge” for their Best Buddy, Zeke Gunnink. 


Best Buddies Rylee Griffith and Hannah Parliament create a heart.



hey could’ve danced all night, that is, of course, if the prom went on that long.

Instead, Brandon Valley High’s Best Buddies made the most of their first-ever prom on Friday evening that featured all of the usuals of the spring ritual: a grand march, dinner and dancing.

“We’ve done other things, pageants, talent shows, but this is our first prom,” said Amy Frantzen, a special education teacher at BVHS.

Best Buddies is a program that matches students with special needs to their high school peers. Amy Frantzen, a special education teacher at BVHS first introduced the program to BVHS – and South Dakota – in the fall of 2016.

Knowing the large-scale junior-senior prom may overwhelm some of the Best Buddies, Frantzen described Friday’s more intimate affair as “the perfect night for them.”

“All of them have been looking forward to it,” she said. 

With BVHS’s 2022 spring prom in the books, some of the décor from that event was recycled for the Best Buddies Prom. The décor was used on the stage of the Performing Arts Center, where all of the Best Buddies paraded across, stopped and posed for photos as well as the occasional “thumbs-up” and “jazz hands.” 

Frantzen said the stylists at Love That Look did all of the girls’ hair for Friday’s affair.

Junior Andrew Knutson was accompanied by seniors Rachel Spencer and Izzy Stone and freshmen Landon Dulaney and Lillian Dirksen. Knutson speaks through American Sign Language, which both Spencer and Stone are well-versed in.

Spencer and Knutson were first paired as Best Buddies three years ago. She said she wanted to be part of something that “includes each other.”

“Rylee Griffith is in the senior class and I was friends with her, so I got involvedd originally for her,” Spencer tells. “Then I met Andrew my sophomore year, and since I was taking ASL, I’ve been his buddy ever since.”

Their friendship simply makes Knutson “happy” and “excited.”

Knutson’s “Buddy family” have embarked on a variety of outings, including bowling, painting pumpkins, field trips to the mall and his birthday celebration in February, in which they watched a movie together.

He and Stone also joined the BVHS Best Buddies in taking in the movie, Sing 2.

Knutson even prepared a meal for his Buddies in addition to enjoying a prom dinner in the comforts of family’s home.

“This has honestly been some of the most fun I’ve had in high school,” Stone boasts of her Best Buddies experience. “Andrew is the most amazing person. I sit next to him at lunch every day and I laugh all of the time. We laugh and just have fun, and I’ve known Rachel since we were in sixth grade, and this has just been the most fun.”

As excited as the girls were to be on Knutson’s arms at the junior-senior prom a week earlier, Knutson was overly excited to take in Friday’s prom with his Best Buddies peers.

“He talked about it all the time, even after we went to prom, it was all we heard about the next day,” Stone said.

The Buddies surely enjoy their time on the dance floor together. Spencer said they’ve introduced him to a variety of dances, like the fishing pole and the sprinkler.

“And you know the jitterbug, too,” she confirms. 

Donning a sparkly red gown she’d worn for the BVHS prom the week prior, Spencer was ecstatic to get wear it a second time.

“Otherwise, the cost is not worth it,” she said.

Knutson, however, didn’t mind the repeat.

“She’s beautiful,” he enthusiastically signed.


The Brandon Valley Journal


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