The Collegian
Friday, October 23, 2020

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APO's prom brings students and senior citizens together

Alpha Phi Omega's Senior Citizen Prom brought college students and nursing home residents together on the dance floor Wednesday night.

The prom is hosted by APO, a co-ed service fraternity, every year in the Alice Haynes Room. This spring, the fraternity sent out roughly 60 invitations and called 28 nursing homes, Amanda Minnitte, president of APO, said.

Nancy Elliott, a Westhampton College graduate, said she had come to the prom because she enjoyed meeting and talking to the students.

"We're so far removed from them in age," she said. "It's nice to see what the younger generations are into."

But the senior citizens were not the only ones who were curious. "I love when [the senior citizens] start telling stories or opening up about what culture was like when they were young," Minnitte said.

APO members found senior citizens with whom to dance, chat and take prom photos. A Prom King and Queen were even chosen at the end of the night with the winners being chosen based on dancing and liveliness. Minnitte said the goal of the dance had been to use the key elements of a prom to make sure everyone had been having a good time.

"The difference [between a high school and Senior Citizen Prom] is half the people don't look like they belong at a high school prom," community member David Gripshover said. "The more you're aging in your body does not necessarily match your mind."

Everyone attends the prom for free; APO covers the cost of party favors and catering. The band members are volunteers, and the Richmond chemistry department donated the helium tank for the balloons.

This year's theme was masquerade, and each attendee received a hand-decorated mask and a photo frame with their prom photo. Freshman Emmy Morse was the chairwoman for the event. She said the committee had been planning the event since February and she had been excited to see it come together so the senior citizens could enjoy it.

Elliott said she wanted to come because she enjoyed when APO members come to her nursing home and play dominoes. APO members are very close with the residents of Elliott's nursing home, Minnitte said. Minnitte said she was happy to see many people from other nursing homes as well.

Gripshover said he had come out for his second year at the prom because he thought it was a fun event and appreciated the students' efforts to host the dance.

"I personally would put myself closer with the young people [than the older people,]" he said. "It's only my logic that tells me I'm too old to associate with them."

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Contact reporter Chrissy Wengloski at christine.wengloski@richmond.edu

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