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Longtime friends, Hanson School classmates to get the full prom experience

Hanson High School seniors Abby Hanson and Tyler Tuttle pose together on Wednesday morning at Hanson High School. (Matt Gade / Republic)1 / 3
Hanson High School seniors Abby Hanson and Tyler Tuttle pose with the sign Hanson used to ask Tuttle to prom this year. (Submitted photo)2 / 3
Hanson High School students Abby Hanson and Tyler Tuttle pose during 2016 prom. The two plan to attend prom together again this year. (Submitted photo)3 / 3

ALEXANDRIA — Friends since pre-school, it made sense for Abby Hanson and Tyler Tuttle to attend prom together.

The seniors at Hanson High School have known each other for as long as they can remember, and when prom season came around, Hanson didn't hesitate to ask Tuttle, who has an intellectual disability, to prom for the second year in a row.

She asked Tuttle on Valentine's Day, and after a few moments of hesitation, he gladly agreed to go with her to this year's prom — which has a fairytale theme. It would have been hard to turn Hanson down, as she brought candy and made a sign saying "It'd be sweet if you went to prom with me."

"I was very nervous," Hanson said with a laugh. " ... He's been my friend all these years and I want to make him smile the way he always makes me smile."

Tuttle — who was also crowned Homecoming King in the fall — enjoys hunting, and being outdoors, so to catch his attention, Hanson asked him last year with a sign that said, "I've been hunting for a date ... prom?"

Although he's not sure if he'll be dancing this year, Tuttle said Hanson is his top choice for a prom date. And the two are expecting to have a great time, just as they had last year. Both agreed that seeing the smiles on everyone's faces, including their friends and family, is the best part.

Hanson, who's the class president, has been planning to go with Tuttle to the prom for quite some time, letting her boyfriend know ahead of time that she's only going with Tuttle.

"He was fine with it. He knows how special Tyler is to me," Hanson said. " ... I had plans I wanted to take Tyler because he's always been a friend to me, and this year I wanted the same experiences as I had last year."

Prom is Friday at Hanson School, and Hanson and Tuttle are prepared for the big night. Hanson plans to wear a white dress, while Tuttle will adorn a black suit featuring a orange vest and tie. To top it all off, bright orange flowers will complete their ensemble.

Both Hanson and Tuttle will graduate from Hanson High School in May, but they won't go far. Tuttle will remain in Alexandria with family, and Hanson plans to attend Dakota Wesleyan University in Mitchell.

And even though they'll miss seeing each other in school, they're glad to have another prom night to remember.

"I'll miss seeing Tyler's bright smile every day," Hanson said. " ... We're just excited for prom."

Knowing the students for several years, the news didn't come as a surprise to Hanson High School Principal Ray Slaba.

"We have all known Tyler as just another one of the guys around Hanson High School. He's been involved in different extracurricular programs through the years and has formed a great relationship with the kids and staff here at Hanson," Slaba said. " ... Abby has never been one to worry about what anyone else thinks. She has made good independent decisions ever since I've known her."