Seniors visit Bickford for 3rd annual prom

Bickford Cottage senior prom

Ali Miller/Staff Writer

Ray Reutenik had his senior prom in 1939. Now, thanks to English teacher Dianne Flaherty and her senior leadership crew, he can experience that again not as a senior in high school, but as a senior citizen. On Saturday, April 3, senior leadership members and Flaherty hosted the 3rd annual “Senior Prom” at Bickford Retirement Home. About 25-30 students participated, and almost all of the residents came out of their rooms to chat, have snacks and dance with the seniors. Reutenik was talking about memories with his wife when a song he recognized came on that he knew the name of and who it was by. “Once we heard that music playing, we knew we had to get up,” he said.

“I think there’s such a wealth of memory with these people, and it’s easier for high-schoolers to tap into those memories,” Flaherty said of the elders. The majority of the time was spent just talking with and listening to the residents. Stories were shared, laughs bubbled out and smiles spread wide across the faces of both kinds of seniors.

The CF seniors were not the only ones gaining from this event. “Some of them have such stories, and they just get grateful for their own grandparents. They see a different side of life rather than just going to school every day and being with their friends,” Flaherty said. She also went on as to why this event is so important and special to not only her, but the residents and students as well. “There’s good energy. It’s good for the residents and good for our kids. It’s a win-win situation.”

Senior Beth Harvey participated and said she thoroughly enjoyed it. “I think it’s nice we come here because they really appreciate having someone to chat with,” she said. Not all of the residents get visitors, and if they do, they usually just drop in, say hi, and leave. “It’s good to hear these people’s stories. They’re really cute. I like them,” Harvey said.

Cindy Meehan is a CNA at Bickford and has been there for all three years that the high school has done this. “They love it!” she said. “They really enjoy this a lot. Most of them are out here and participating and have smiles on their faces.” Meehan went on to explain how the Bickford seniors will probably be buzzing all about their experience for the rest of the day and through supper time about how they had such fun with “these young kids.”

Some of the kids even come back on the high school prom night with their dates to visit everyone that they talked with on the Bickford prom night. The residents get pictures taken with the students, and Flaherty frames them and brings them back to the home.

“We need to bring generations together,” she said.

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