Students and local senior citizens celebrate at annual Senior Prom

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Although their memories of high school may have faded, area seniors got a chance relive their youth Sunday afternoon at the annual Senior Prom, hosted by the Neighbors Project – a division of the Office of Community Service.

The event, held in the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom, treats low-income seniors from the District to a free, full-service prom including dinner, pictures, dancing and a prom court.

Selma Dillard, who has attended the prom for the past three years, said the event always evokes nostalgic memories of her youth.

“When I come in, it takes me back 50 something years, and how you see young people helping us, I think that is such a joy,” she said. “It reminds me of yesteryear and that’s why I try to come every year.”

More than 100 students volunteered at the event – serving food, escorting seniors to their tables and dancing and mingling with the guests.

Since the first Senior Prom seven years ago, the popularity of the event has increased significantly, organizers said. They received more than 400 requests for tickets to the prom, though there were only 250 available.

While he did not like turning people away, Neighbors Project Coordinator Corey Barenbrugge felt proud of the heightened interest in the prom.

“It’s grown into such a large and dynamic event and we’re very happy about that,” said Barenbrugge, a senior. “That means that we’re succeeding in our mission.”

The theme of the evening was “A Celebration of the District,” highlighting iconic characteristics of D.C. in decorations resembling the monuments and the Metro. In addition to dinner and dancing, guests enjoyed entertainment provided by student performers.

While the event offers all the elements of a true prom, Barenbrugge said Senior Prom is more than just a mock high school dance.

“Senior prom is a cross-cultural, intergenerational exchange between students and seniors,” he said. “Each guest and student leaves with a positive appreciation for the impact that each party has on the District.”

“GW is a really an insular place and it’s not reflective of D.C. as a whole, so events like this that involve community outreach just really allow students to get more from their surrounding areas,” said junior Sasha Belinkie, who has volunteered at the event for the past two years.

Before opening the floor for the dancing portion of the evening, the Prom King and Prom Queen were announced and danced the first dance of the evening with student volunteers. The seniors soon crowded the dance floor, showing off their moves while dancing with students and other seniors.

Kendall Washington, the Senior Prom King who was also celebrating his 90th birthday, said he was very happy he attended the event.

“I’m having a really good time,” Washington said, laughing. “I’ll be back next year, if I’m still around.”

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