A prom that has two generations dancing

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Alexis Bentz

Lilli Green, a resident of Charles E. Smith Life Communities, enjoys dancing with a student from the BBYO youth group at the recent JCA Senior Prom.
Photo by Alan Croll

When you hear the term “senior prom” you probably think of high school seniors dancing the night away in their school gymnasium. However, in this column, I’m going to talk about a different type of senior prom — one that brought together older adults and teens.

The Jewish Council for the Aging (JCA)’s Interages program recently hosted a senior prom that could knock your socks off. I had the opportunity to interview Margot Smith, one of the workers responsible for setting up the prom, to learn more.

Q: How would you describe the senior prom?

A: The senior prom for JCA is very much like a regular high school senior prom except for the age of the participants. There are tables with food, a DJ and a dance floor. It is however, a little old fashioned because it is less digital than a high school prom.

It’s mostly just eat, drink and be merry. There is lots of dancing, and current music is played. It is extremely fun for both generations.

Q: Who sets up and runs the prom? Do teens and/or seniors help?

A: The prom is set up by both adults and teens. Teens play a large part in helping with the set up and participating in the prom. Teams from the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, a Jewish youth group, participate and dance with the older people. There is lots of interaction.

The older adults don’t help set up the prom, they just attend. Like teens going to a high school prom, they are guests, and are not expected to help with the set up and clean up.

Q: What are the key similarities and differences between this prom and a high school senior prom?

A: The main differences are that a senior citizen prom is a little tamer than a high school prom, and a little bit more old-fashioned and less technology oriented. However, similar activities and traditions are held, and it is still lots of fun.

Q: How does the prom benefit the two generations?

Alexis Bentz is an 8th grader at Robert Frost Middle School in Rockville, Md. She writes this column to help bridge the gap between Beacon readers and school-age kids.

A: The different generations are brought together, and dance and talk all night. This time spent with new people erases stereotypes.

The event gets seniors out in a social situation and gives them the opportunity to be with younger people and to dance.

It also gives teens a new perspective on older people. Teens learn that seniors can be extremely fun and lively, and can boogie with the best of them! Teens may know seniors in their family, but it is very different when they make connections with seniors outside of the family.

Q: How can an average teen or senior get involved next year?

A: If a person, group, or team wants to be a part of this annual event, regardless of their age or religion, they can contact JCA, and we’ll find a job for them. The person to contact is Leah Bradley at (301) 255-4234, or lbradley@accessjca.org.

Sounds like fun? The next time you hear about a senior prom in the area, see if you can attend. It can be a great way to have a good time and bond with youth. 

Or maybe help arrange a prom of your own. Contact principals of schools, or members of intergenerational programs, and ask if they would be interested in hosting a senior prom.

Giving others the idea of the prom and helping to set it up can make a huge difference in the lives of teens and seniors everywhere.