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Murray Journal

Senior Ball takes on whole new meaning

May 30, 2022 04:37PM ● By Julie Slama

By Julie Slama | [email protected]

The night was filled fancy dresses, smart suits and ties, tasty hors d'oeuvres, photos, beautiful corsages and boutonnières, sparkly decorations, twinkling lights, music from the Glenn Miller Orchestra to today’s hits and plenty of boogin’ down by seniors, from both senior citizens and seniors in high school.

It was the Senior Ball at Olympus Ranch, the first big activity the senior residential living has held since the COVID-19 pandemic hit, which was planned in part by Murray High student government.

“We call our senior high school dance a senior ball, but in this case, we thought it would be fun play on words since we’re having a senior ball with senior citizens,” Murray High senior and student body officer of publicity Carissa Vera said. “We wanted to have this dance as a service project that really has a positive impact on our community and with all the leaders at Murray High School.”

At the “Night in Paris” ball, more than 100 dancers between senior residents, high school student body officers, class officers, Men of Sparta and Murray Association of Girls took to the floor, said Jackie Martin, Murray High’s student government adviser.

Murray High junior Alex Guzman left a soccer game early to be at the ball, where he danced with the prom queen, Janet Emery.

“This is fun, just a great experience to have wholesome interaction with these seniors,” he said.

Emery, who got her dress special for the occasion, said it was not only her first prom, but it was her first dance.

“My mother was sick back then, so I never learned the dance steps or could go when I was in high school,” she said. “I enjoy dancing with my feet, and I took a photo for my three sons in my crown and sash.”

Dal Seeley celebrated being named prom king on the dance floor.

“It feels great,” he said. “I wasn’t prom king back then.”

World War II veteran Bruce Hintze danced with wife, Pat Morrissen.

“I like the music from the ’40s, the big band music,” said the retired Marine. “I danced a few songs, but I don’t know the steps to today’s dancing. I know the waltz, fox trot, jitterbug from the dance halls in town. Today’s dances feel more like swaying, but the kids are enthusiastic. It’s nice of them to share time with us. I’d try to get out there again, but my legs don’t move like they used to.”

In between dances, there were raffle prizes announced. The music, photo booth, refreshments and other services were donated or discounted. 

Olympus Ranch’s activity director Austin Perez made corsages.

“I made the corsages with a friend; I thought it might bring back some memories,” he said. “The Murray High School students and Jackie really got the ball rolling. Our residents were excited to have the dance and bring back some normalcy after the past few years.”

Olympus Ranch General Manager David Scott appreciated Murray High’s youth interacting with the senior residents.

“We loved the idea of recreating a senior prom with the senior class complementing our own seniors,” he said. “It’s great when our residents can get out and be with young people. This is like a trip down memory lane, with some music they grew up with.”

Deejay Jordan Jarman, an Elevation Hospice Care patient resource manager, said he loves playing music to remind them “of memories and music of their day. I love how songs bring back a memory of something they love or of a happy time when they went dancing with their spouse.”

Murray High senior and student body officer of activities Makenna Siebenberg said she enjoyed the evening.

“It was cool to see the joy in their faces when they dance and then tell me they haven’t danced in 20 years—that’s longer than I’ve been alive,” she said. “One senior told me they were having the time of their lives.”

That’s why Alisha Christensen, with Modvi Photo Booths, said she was happy to volunteer to help make the event happen for the senior citizens.

“Just to see the joy from the residents and excitement in the evening is worth it,” she said, adding that now both the senior residents and senior high school students have some new shared memories.

Cindy Mandic, of Olympus Ranch, agreed that it was a fun, lighthearted way to bridge the age groups. “This is so much fun; I’m so glad everyone is having a good time.”

That includes the one senior (citizen) who wished to remain anonymous, who said with a sly smile: “It’s been a ball of fun, but be careful, I just might spike the punch tonight.”