Staying Hip

Some say that age slows a person down, but Myrtle Church couldn’t disagree more.

“Age is nothing but a number,” she said at Saturday’s fiesta-themed Senior Prom, hosted by the Neighbors Project. The prom, held in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom, is an annual event hosted by GW for low-income seniors.

Church proudly donned her Miss Senior D.C. 2001 sash at the prom, as did more than a dozen other past pageant winners. Though said she is plagued by arthritis, Church added that getting older only enhances life.

“I don’t let anything hold me back,” she said.

Hatchet Video: The Senior Prom

More than 100 students came out to volunteer for the prom, which was hosted for 240 senior guests. The afternoon featured dinner and dessert, performances by student a cappella groups, dancing and prizes.

Planning for the event began in January, said sophomore Christine Harhaj, who was in charge of this year’s festivities. Harhaj is the Neighbors Project service coordinator for health, aging and disability services.

Some seniors had to be turned away due to the overwhelming interest in the event, Harhaj said.

Sophomore Azhar Al Fadl’s grandmother, Maria Miranda, said she comes to the dance every year. Miranda, who lives in Foggy Bottom, worked at the GW Hospital for more than 20 years and sent both of her children to the University.

“GW is like my second home,” Miranda said, adding that she is always impressed by the high turnout of volunteers. “I know this is a time when everyone should be studying and I think it’s great that the students take time on a Saturday to do this for us.”

The prom attracts a high number of student volunteers, and last year too many signed up, said sophomore Alex Levin, a Neighbors Project service coordinator.

“This year, we ended up having the perfect amount. The whole thing is volunteer-run,” Levin said. “Without their support, all of this could never happen.”

Arthur Miles was impressed by the attentiveness of the students.

“Everyone was so cordial, so respectful,” he said. “I came late, but I still had fun. It was a beautiful atmosphere.”

Freshman Chris Franzetti manned the printer station at the complimentary photo booth and said that he was glad to be working the assignment.

“I like working with senior citizens and making them smile,” he said.

Dressed in their “Sunday best” (as requested on the invitation) Geneva Layna of Northeast D.C. and Anna Pratt of Northwest posed to have their pictures taken in front of a Senior Prom 2008 backdrop.

“This is our first time here,” Layne said after smiling for the camera. “Everything is wonderful.”

Aretha Williams of St. Mary’s Court said she was surprised by the extravagant decorations, which included a giant green balloon arch at the front of the dance floor, multi-colored handmade tissue flowers and bright, salt encrusted mock-aritas with lime slices.

“It’s really gorgeous,” Williams said. “It’s much more than what I thought it would be.”

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