Some of her friends tried to talk her out of it.
Her parents were proud but wanted her to be certain.
Park Vista High School cheerleader Mikal Bartosik would not be deterred.
“I’ve already gone to two proms,” the 17-year-old Boynton Beach senior said. “I wanted him to have the same feeling.”
So on Friday morning, Bartosik walked into the special education classroom of her friend, Jonathan, 18, who’s on the autism spectrum and presented him with a “promposal.”
Inside a red box, a huge cookie cake spelled out “Will You Go to the Prom With Me?” in white icing.
In a video her friend took, Jonathan (whose last name was not released by the Palm Beach County School District) can be seen screaming and jumping for joy until Bartosik asks with a laugh, “So does that mean ‘yes?’”
“It was like something you see in movies,” said Jeanne Ladner, the school’s speech pathologist and cheerleading coach. “I cried.”
“JMR,” as Jonathan is known at school, and Bartosik became friends last year when the cheerleader started hanging out with a group of special ed kids at lunch.
When other students criticized her for sitting with “those weird kids,” Bartosik got angry, then flew into teaching mode.
“I told them they just have different social issues, different ways of communicating,” she said. “Besides, once you get to know them, they’re not that different and they’re way nicer than kids without disabilities.”
Taking one of the special ed boys to the suburban Lake Worth school’s prom was something she’d been thinking about for two years, Bartosik said. She became more serious about the idea when she realized that none of Park Vista’s special ed students attended last year’s prom.
“Last year, I had a boyfriend when prom came around so I thought I should go with him since it was his senior year,” she said.
This year, she didn’t want to go with some random guy. She knew JMR wanted badly to attend the April 9 prom.
“Personally, I think this is going to be the most special prom for me because I’ll be making someone else happy,” she said.
Bartosik is also a top athlete at Park Vista, where she runs the 100-meter hurdle. Last spring, she became the school’s only girl to go to the state finals in track. In the fall, she’ll head to Florida Gulf Coast University to study either nursing or special education.
She insists this is no charity date. She describes JMR as sweet and friendly and very social, so he’s fun to be around.
And she certainly isn’t tossing on any old dress that night.
“Don’t get me wrong, I’m not getting a crappy dress and just winging it,” Bartosik said. “I’m going all out for this boy. I’m going to make him look really good.”