Seniors Savor Senior Prom Students take a spin on the dance floor

Publish Date:

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

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Seattle Times

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EDMONDS, Wash. —

Mason Hoover walked over to Arlene Ray and asked her to dance at prom.

They swayed, her senior citizen arms around the high school senior's shoulders. When the music stopped, they held hands, waiting for the next song.

"Do you wanna dance?" Hoover asked for the second time.

"Do you?" she responded.

"It's up to you," he said.

She nodded. "I don't get to dance very often," she replied.

When the band started, so did they.

An hour and a half later, Ray was still dancing.

Ray, all dressed up with a corsage pinned to her floor-length blue dress, spent the night dancing with men five times younger than her. The Sunrise Senior Prom was hosted by a dozen students in the Edmonds-Woodway High School DECA marketing leadership class. About 40 seniors from Sunrise Senior Living in Edmonds attended the holiday-themed event.

"They came to dance with the old bags," Ray joked. "They didn't trip over their legs. I didn't trip over mine. It's a good-looking group - a nice party."

In preparation for the dance, held Thursday, Edmonds-Woodway teachers taught the students some basic waltz steps and lectured them on old-school etiquette.

"It's the first time we've ever done something like this, so we didn't really know what to expect, but you can tell from the people's faces it's been successful," DECA teacher Matt Laures said.

Student Evan Hoover danced with several women at the prom. The scene, especially the dancing, was quite different from most high school dances, the senior said.

"It's not very challenging, which is nice," he said in between dances. "I just have to stand there. All that freak dancing - I'm not good at that."

The students wore formal gowns and suits. One boy even bought his first suit.

The older ladies had their nails painted and hair styled.

Ann Maras, 87, came with her white hair newly done and glitter on her cheekbones.

When she was younger, she loved to do the jitterbug, but hasn't danced much recently. At the prom, she twirled with several of the boys.

"I'm surprised all these people are asking me to dance," she said, taking a breather. "I don't know why because I don't know who they are."

DECA President Taylor Tindall came up with the idea for the prom after hearing of dances sponsored by other DECA chapters. Originally she wanted to host a community-wide event, but eventually decided to narrow the scope. While serving older customers at Claire's Pantry restaurant in Edmonds, she thought seniors would appreciate a dance.

On Thursday, she was thrilled to see so many seniors dancing, sipping blue martinis - some alcoholic, some not - and tapping their feet to the trombone.

"Having the high school kids here has added a lot of spice," said Dan Magee, a Seattle teacher who wore a tuxedo and attended the event to dance with his mom, Joan Magee, 87, who wore a tiara. "The kids are really getting the residents to get up and get moving. They're absorbing the energy of the younger generation."

The prom court was announced near the end of the evening.

Sunrise staff placed a puffy king's crown on the head of Sherm Mills, 99, and a queen's tiara atop Elizabeth Wilson's gray hair.

"This is my king - oh boy, oh boy," Wilson said, taking Mills' hand. "Don't take your hat off. You're my king! You better stay respectful."

By the time they left their dance partners behind, the students were already talking about a spring senior prom.

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