Music, clapping and laughter rang out at Fairfax Nursing Center Wednesday, May 13, as 26 Paul VI Catholic High School students dressed up to support the Campus Ministry Team’s “Senior” Prom for wheel-chair bound residents.
“It was a blast,” said Fairfax Nursing Home Activities Coordinator Lucy Norment. “It probably was one of the most enjoyable evenings our residents have had because it was so different.”
Glittering prom gowns flashed on the dance floor as the students began the evening by entertaining the residents with dances like the Electric Slide and Macarena. By the time they were doing the Chicken Dance and YMCA the residents were joining in with the arm motions. Later students held hands and danced with the seniors.
Resident Joe O’Neill, who is in a wheel chair, convinced his Paul VI dance partner that she could even twirl under his arm. The Twist was another popular number with both students and residents.
During a Glenn Miller recording, resident Martha Newman reminisced about dancing to that song and meeting Clark Gable when she lived in Brooklyn.
PAUL VI senior Kelly Carden brought her grandmother Dollilou Sturdivant, who is a Fairfax Nursing Center resident, to the festivities. Carden’s friends gathered around to talk with Sturdivant.
The highlight of the evening was the Limbo, according to Denyse Kline, Campus Minister at Paul VI. Students pushed the residents’ wheel chairs under the limbo stick, with nearly everyone able to participate. One resident laughed heartily as he propelled his electric wheel chair under the stick numerous times.
Resident Imo Tilson clapped along to “What A Night” saying, “Great song.”
“I felt like I really made a difference,” said Paul VI sophomore Stephen Phung. “There was one lady who said she doesn’t get many visitors and I want to visit that lady and the other residents too. I am going to volunteer this summer and just be there for them. When I grow old I hope someone would do the same for me.”
Junior Bonnie Burnheimer said that the Campus Ministry Team had wanted to do one more service project before the end of the year. “It was prom season and everyone loves getting dressed up, so we decided to ask Fairfax Nursing Center if we could hold a dance for the residents,” said Burnheimer.
“I was surprised at how well the students were interacting with the residents,” said the Center’s Assistant Activities Director Peter Norment. “It is rare to see students so relaxed in going up to the residents and talking and dancing with them.” Peter Norment noted that the residents were still talking about the event the next day. “Even people who weren’t there are hearing about it.”
According to Lucy Norment, “One family member said it brought tears to her eyes to see these young people bringing such joy to the residents.”
The students too enjoyed themselves and Burnheimer says the Campus Ministry Team will plan another “Senior” Prom next year.