“We should have this every year,” attendee Laura Broggi said, struggling to be heard over the oldies tunes blaring in the background, courtesy of Patterson High School student D.J. Angelina Rodriguez.
“The kids deserve a great hand. We’re having a great time,” Broggi added.
The great time was all due to a senior prep project—an exit exam program required by high school seniors for graduation—by Alexandra Rubio, a local senior at Patterson High School.
“I really want something for (senior citizens) to do,” Rubio said. Hence, the senior prom for senior citizens. “This is something completely different from Bingo night.”
Rubio said she got the idea of hosting a senior prom for seniors at a summer camp for youth leaders at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She said she spent her younger years living with her grandparents and loved “hanging out” with them.
Mentor Jason Hayward, who also acts as the recreation coordinator for the city of Patterson, said the event surpassed his expectations, and opened up additional opportunities for the seniors and the youth to converge for similar functions.
“This is one of the best events I’ve seen,” said Hayward. “The mix of seniors and teens is amazing.”
Teens could be seen mingling in the background with senior citizens, and were even out on the dance floor getting taught a thing or two about dancing to the oldies.
Patterson resident Al Parham, vice president of the 50-Plus Club, said the action item came up shortly after Rubio presented the idea to the club.
“I thought it was a great idea. Everybody is having a great time,” he said. “There is no better class project than interacting with seniors.”
Parham said there was a lot of knowledge in the room just waiting to be imparted on this young generation.
“There needs to be stronger communication between us,” he said. “Seniors have a lot of wisdom that they can give to the youth. This starts the process of bridging that gap and teaching these kids about past eras.”
Nick Rappley can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or 209-568-9975.