Save the date: Hempfield schedules free prom for senior citizens
Mary Rose came to the United States from Italy when she was 15 years old and attended her first high school dance just a few years ago, when she and husband Angelo went to the Hempfield Senior Citizen prom.
“I never went to a prom until my old age,” said Rose, 80, of Eastern Estates in Hempfield. “I'll tell you what, the students are all so nice and helpful, the food is great. ... I can't say enough about the senior prom.
“The pictures that are taken and the entertainment are wonderful. All our friends go,” she said. “I can't wait to go.”
Mary and Angelo, 83, are “still in good shape” but dancing isn't the primary reason they go to the prom, now in its 15th year, Rose said.
“Mainly we listen to the music and socialize with our friends,” she said.
The free Hempfield Senior Citizen Prom will be held from noon until 3 p.m. on April 27 for school district residents who are more than 65 years old. Registration is required by April 1.
“This is a huge event for Hempfield's senior residents,” said Natalie Fetterman, a high school Spanish teacher and the volunteer organizer behind the prom for the last six years.
Red will be the color scheme this year. There will be more than 100 items to give away, about 40 raffles and a Chinese auction. Prizes will be given to the oldest person there, to those who have attended the prom for the most years and in other categories.
Entertainment features the high school jazz band and students involved in musical theater.
“Couples, singles and groups of friends come to the prom,” Fetterman said.
The first event in the 1997-98 school year was initiated by the school board.
“Although the prom takes a lot of time and dedication to coordinate, it is an incredibly rewarding experience to see the more than 300 senior citizens enjoy an afternoon with one another,” she added.
Food will be provided by Long's Catering in Crabtree, which has handled the buffet-style meal for at least 13 senior proms, said co-owner Michele Myers.
About 25 student volunteers deliver drinks, help serve the meal and clean up after the prom. Other students who participate are from the jazz band, the show choir ensemble, the Spanish Honor Society and the National Honor Society.
“We usually have about 50 kids participate,” said senior Alexa Smith, 18, who has helped out since she was a sophomore.
“Each year we've gotten more and more people attending. It is a great time — seeing the volunteers interacting with the seniors — and a good time helping out,” Smith said.
This year's performance will include tunes from “South Pacific,” the high school musical this year, Smith said.
Fans of the senior prom appreciate the effort that Fetterman puts into the event.
“Natalie is a great teacher and the kids are right there to do whatever they can to help,” said Rose. “She does such a good job.”
Rose Domenick is a freelance writer.