The Collegian
Saturday, December 09, 2023

APO hosts senior citizen prom

Alpha Phi Omega, University of Richmond's co-ed service fraternity, will host a night of dancing and conversation for both college students and senior citizens.

APO's 15th annual Senior Citizen Prom, themed "A Red Carpet Affair," will take place on Nov. 6 from 6 to 9 p.m. in the Alice Haynes room and the game room in the Tyler Haynes Commons.

People living in local retirement homes and assisted living centers, as well as community members, are invited to join Richmond students for this free annual event. Guests will dance to music played by the faculty jazz band and enjoy food catered by the university.

Richmond music professor Gene Anderson, the clarinet player and organizer for the Richmond faculty jazz band, said the band enjoys volunteering to play at the prom every year.

"We like the dancing," Anderson said. "But the most heart-warming thing is to see students with the elderly people. Everyone seems to have a great time."

Sophomore Sharon Petway, APO member and co-chairwoman for the prom, said it is enjoyable for everyone and makes a difference to a lot of people.

"Since APO is a co-ed service fraternity, we try to do things that benefit students and the community as whole," Petway said. "The prom queen actually cried when she was crowned. She said she never won anything before."

Junior Lauren Pryor, also a cochairwoman for the prom, said the event was free because of APO fundraising and student government and administrative grants. APO started planning the prom and fundraisers soon after they came back to campus in August.

Last year's prom brought about 60 senior citizens to campus. Both Pryor and Petway said most of the students at the prom are APO's 30 to 40 members and their friends. Petway said that APO plans to advertise more this year and encourage more students to get involved.

The faculty jazz band, which has performed together for 25 years, plays 1920s jazz music, modeling themselves after King Oliver's Creole Jazz Band, which was one of the first black bands to record jazz. The band has been performing at the senior citizen's prom for almost as long as it has been held.

"The best thing about it is for our students to connect with older people and to bridge the generation gap," Anderson said. "I think the students get as much out of it as elderly folks."

Pryor said everyone benefits from spending time with people they usually wouldn't converse with.

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"I think that a lot of times in the college atmosphere, we are surrounded by people of our own age, and it's good to learn a new perspective from other generations," Pryor said. "Any time you bring people together, it's a good thing"

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