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North Allegheny hosts annual Senior Citizens' Prom

| Tuesday, May 15, 2018, 2:03 p.m.
Carolyn Dennerlein, 95, of Masonic Village in Sewickley, and her friend, Al Kowalski, 90, of Ross, after being crowned Prom King and Queen,
Carolyn Dennerlein, 95, of Masonic Village in Sewickley, and her friend, Al Kowalski, 90, of Ross, after being crowned Prom King and Queen,
Chuck and Audrey Babin, 88 and 84 respectively, have been dancing together since they were 13 years old. They have been coming to the NA Senior Citizens’ Prom since it began nearly 20 years ago.
Meg Rees | For the Tribune-Review
Chuck and Audrey Babin, 88 and 84 respectively, have been dancing together since they were 13 years old. They have been coming to the NA Senior Citizens’ Prom since it began nearly 20 years ago.
Norm and Maze Riffner hit the dance floor at North Allegheny's Senior Citizens' Prom on May 11.
Meg Rees | For the Tribune-Review
Norm and Maze Riffner hit the dance floor at North Allegheny's Senior Citizens' Prom on May 11.
Carolyn Dennerlein, 95, of Masonic Village in Sewickley, and her friend, Al Kowalski, 90, of Ross, joke with some of the North Allegheny students after being crowned Prom King and Queen,
Carolyn Dennerlein, 95, of Masonic Village in Sewickley, and her friend, Al Kowalski, 90, of Ross, joke with some of the North Allegheny students after being crowned Prom King and Queen,
North Allegheny's Senior Citizens' Prom has been an annual event for two decades.
Meg Rees | For the Tribune-Review
North Allegheny's Senior Citizens' Prom has been an annual event for two decades.
Phil Zmenkowski takes a selfie of hiimself and his wife, Jackie, while sitting on benches in the North Allegheny High School cafeteria that was transormed into a prom by the Junior Class Council on May 11, 2018.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Phil Zmenkowski takes a selfie of hiimself and his wife, Jackie, while sitting on benches in the North Allegheny High School cafeteria that was transormed into a prom by the Junior Class Council on May 11, 2018.
Close to 200 people attended the Senior Citizens'  Prom at North Allegheny High School on May 11.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Close to 200 people attended the Senior Citizens' Prom at North Allegheny High School on May 11.
Margory Wilkinson from the Sunrise Senior Living Center enters the red carpet for the annual Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny High School on May 11, 2018.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Margory Wilkinson from the Sunrise Senior Living Center enters the red carpet for the annual Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny High School on May 11, 2018.
North Allegheny Junior Council member Riya Divekar greets Dorothy McAllonis at the annual Senior Citizens Prom held in the school cafeteria on May 11, 2018.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
North Allegheny Junior Council member Riya Divekar greets Dorothy McAllonis at the annual Senior Citizens Prom held in the school cafeteria on May 11, 2018.
Close to 200 senior citizens attended the annual Prom at North Allegheny High School on May 11.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Close to 200 senior citizens attended the annual Prom at North Allegheny High School on May 11.
North Allegheny Junior Council member Melanie Brkovich dances the waltz with senior citizen Garry Cunningham.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
North Allegheny Junior Council member Melanie Brkovich dances the waltz with senior citizen Garry Cunningham.
Betty Murphy and Paul Herald, both from the Vincenza Village, attended the annual  Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny High School on May 11.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Betty Murphy and Paul Herald, both from the Vincenza Village, attended the annual Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny High School on May 11.
Married 63 years, Norm and Maze Riffner slow dance at the annual Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny Senior High School on May 11, 2018.
Jan Pakler | For the Tribune Review
Married 63 years, Norm and Maze Riffner slow dance at the annual Senior Citizens Prom held at the North Allegheny Senior High School on May 11, 2018.

It's prom season and high schools all over the country are opening their doors for the biggest dance of the year.

On May 11, about 200 senior citizens converged on North Allegheny Senior High School for theirs.

The Senior Citizens' Prom has been held every year by members of NA's Junior Class Council. Students transform the cafeteria into a ballroom, and a deejay plays waltzes, polkas, and favorites from the Big Band era from 7 to 10 p.m. Light refreshments are available and an official prom photo is provided to every senior attendee. The event is free.

Marty Snyder, 73, brought his wife, Elsie, as a birthday gift. She was turning 78 and this was the first time she had ever been taken to a prom.

“We love the music,” Marty said.

One table was filled with friends who had met at Silver Sneakers, a senior citizens fitness program. They attend the prom together every year. Another table was occupied by 30 senior citizen line dancers from “Body Tech Boot Scooters.” One of them, Elsie Milsick, 85, from Etna, had never attended a prom until she started coming to NA's Senior Citizens' Prom about three years ago.

“My mom wouldn't let me go to my own high school prom. She was very protective and she'd heard rumors that you stayed out all night with the boys,” she said. “I guess she didn't trust me.”

Ripping up the dance floor was a couple — Garry and Elaine Cunningham, 67 and 63, respectively — who had come all the way from New Castle. Betty Murphy, 94, came from nearby Vincentian Villa, a retirement community in McCandless.

“I can't dance anymore because of my knees,” she said. “Still, I enjoy the music and watching others dance. It makes me feel young again.”

A favorite moment was when the senior citizens taught the high school students how to dance the jitterbug, polkas and waltzes, then the students, in turn, taught the senior citizens how to do modern dances like the Electric Slide and Cupid's Shuffle.

“The highlight was getting to connect with senior citizens and having them teach us new dances. I'm pretty sure they had a different dance for every song,” said Junior Class Council member Emmanuelle Satcho, 16, of McCandless.

“I thought the funniest moment was when we were all dancing and one of the senior citizens danced better than we could. It showed me that these people are still youthful and know how to have a good time,” added Joy Fu, 17, of McCandless.

North Allegheny has offered the Senior Citizens' Prom for nearly 20 years. The Junior Class Council holds fundraisers throughout the school year to help offset the costs, which are estimated to be about $600, according to Kristy Loeffert, advisor of the Junior Class Council. The High School Post-Prom Committee donates left-over supplies from the high school prom and Metz Food Service donates cakes.

“The big expenses are the decorations and cookies,” Loeffert said.

To the senior citizens in attendance, however, the dance is priceless.

Carolyn Dennerlein, 95, of Masonic Village in Sewickley, asked her friend, Al Kowalski, 90, of Ross Township, to this year's event. They met about eight years ago while dancing at the Coraopolis VFW.

“I wanted to ask Al to the prom years ago, but before I could ask him, another man asked me to go,” she said with a wink.

At the end of the evening, they were crowned Prom King and Queen, based on how much fun they were having and the memorable impression they made on the teens in Junior Class Council.

“All I can say is ‘Wow,' ” Carolyn said. “I got a tiara and a banner that read, ‘Prom Queen.' Al got a crown. We got such a charge out of that. We laughed all the way home.”

Laurie Rees is a Tribune-Review contributor.

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