The generation gap appeared to be closed in the cafeteria of West Baltimore’s Seton Keough High School as senior citizens and teenagers from four area Catholic schools boogied together on the dance floor to legends like Elvis Presley and James Brown.
“I feel good honey,” growled Catherine Gallagher, a resident of St. Joachim House on the campus of Catholic Charities’ Jenkins Senior Living Community, as she swung her hips to James Brown’s “I Feel Good.”
Draped in a maroon velour pant suit and sporting a pearl necklace, the uninhibited elder lured other seniors from the Jenkins campus (across the street from Seton Keough) and Oakcrest Village of Parkville onto the dance floor to show the youngsters how to really get down.
The Jan. 28 Seniors’ Prom was the third time the teens from Promoting Active Community Testament (PACT) – a consortium of students from Seton-Keough, Mount St. Joseph, Baltimore, Calvert Hall College High Schools, Towson and Maryvale Preparatory School, Brooklandville– held the event.
It’s one of four or five functions the group holds each year, in an effort to give the students from the single-sex schools a chance to interact with each other and to engage with segments of society with whom they may not normally be exposed, said Michael Vogrin, a religion teacher at Maryvale and an adult supervisor with PACT.
Other events include a Halloween party for underprivileged children and a Christmas Party for developmentally disabled adults, Mr. Vogrin said.
For 16-year-old Edwin Jackson, a junior at Mount St. Joseph High School, the seniors’ prom gave him an opportunity to demonstrate his best dance moves to people who really appreciates his talents.
“The older ladies here know good dancing when they see it, and they’re all telling me how well I move,” the swaggering youth said. “Some of them can really dance too. I’m learning a little from them.”
Mingling with the seniors proved easy for Maggie Fridinger, 17, a Maryvale senior, who was able to hold up her end of the conversation at a table of Oakcrest Village residents and caught the eye of 68-year-old Doug Rauh.
Maggie enthusiastically accepted the Oakcrest Village resident’s request for a dance and the two hit the dance floor as the Calvert Hall’s jazz band began to play.
“They just make me smile,” she said of the elders at the prom. “This means so much to them and it makes me feel good that we’re able to have fun with them.”
Though the senior citizens appeared to mix effortlessly, bashfulness beset a few of the teens.
Seventeen-year-old Calvert Hall senior T.J. Hendricks found dancing with the elders a bit intimidating at first.
“It’s not easy dancing to music you don’t know that well with someone you don’t know, especially when they seem to be so comfortable,” T.J. said. “At a mixer it’s a little different, because the girls are just as nervous as you are.”
However, Seton Keough freshman Jenn McCourt found the outgoing nature of the senior citizens’ refreshing.
Sophisticatedly clad in a black dress, Jenn said the event gave her an opportunity to explore the elegant side of society along with her peers.
“This may be really special to the older people, but it’s really special to us too,” she said. “Because we’re young, people don’t always take us seriously. I feel like we’re really respected here today, and that’s nice.”