On February 26, the high school students at Ocoee High School and East Ridge high school made the senior residents at Oak Park’s dream of having a ” Senior Prom” come true.
Every resident had a prom date from the high school. The residents were picked up at 5:30 p.m at their apartments, pinned with corsages and escorted to the photographer where prom pictures of the couples were taken. Following the photos the residents were escorted to the lobby where DJ Larry spun the tunes for the evening. I would like to share with you some of the ” behind-the-scenes-secrets” prior to and following the prom.
I arrived at work the morning of the 26th at 7:00 a.m. 5 residents dressed in their gowns greeted me. I stated to them that the prom was not until 5:30. They said we want to make sure that we are not late for this event. “You should never keep a man waiting!” they said. These “men” are 17 year old students.
We had Mary Kaye Reps doing the residents make up for the prom. My resident Eleanor said, ” I feel like a princess tonight.” She is 89 years old.
She said, “I hope my date is 6’4 and handsome and I hope he has a lot of money!”
She got her wish. Her date was 6’3 and very handsome but… he’s 17 and works at Dairy Queen! I guess two out of three isn’t too bad, right?
The daughters and sons of the residents came in and dressed their family members. They waited in their rooms until their loved ones were picked up by their dates. On the way out the door, the families reminded their loved ones to be sure and call when they got home. Just like a normal prom, the families need to know that they made it home safely. Their rooms are 25 feet from the lobby.
I received a call at 8:30 PM from a resident’s daughter. She said, “I’m worried sick, I thought mother would be home by now. She gets so tired.”
I told her that her mother was fine and having fun. What she didn’t know was that her mother was on the dance floor doing the electric slide, Macarena, YMCA AND the twist since 6:00 without sitting down once!
One of my favorites was my resident Pearl. She had a beautiful dress on. As she came downstairs to the prom with her date, she lifted her skirt above the knee. There it was – a dime taped to her leg. As she showed me, I asked, “What are you going to do with that?”
She said, “I need it here in case I need to make a phone call. My mother always told me to keep that dime under my dress.”
The prom was in our lobby, so I wasn’t quite sure whom she was going to call, but I said, “That’s a wonderful idea! You never know when you may need that.”
The funniest comment of the night came from a high school student. He said ” Miss Terri, these residents are running circles around us. We are tired! Do they ever stop dancing?”
Out of the mouths of babes!
And the most moving comment was from a resident of mine who said, “This is my first prom. We were poor. I never finished high school so I never went to the prom. This is the greatest day of my life! Thank you for making this prom happen. I will never ever forget this day as long as God will have me on this earth.”
She kissed and hugged me and cried.
Seventy residents and 75 students were in attendance as well as the merchants in our community. The Mayor of Clermont took part in this event as well. There was so much laughter and so many tears from watching the children nurturing these seniors as if they were gentle flowers.
It was an amazing experience for myself, all the high school teachers, the staff from Oak Park and the entire community. I’ve included some pictures at the end of this article. It showed all of us all that you CAN bring seniors and young people together and successfully “bridge the generations.”
About the Author: Terri Glimcher is a Contributing Writer at Inside Assisted Living and the Activity Director for Summerville at Oak Park Assisted Living, an Emeritus Senior Living property in Clermont, Florida. She offers training to assisted living directors around the country.