More than 200 senior citizens from the D.C. community traveled to the Marvin Center Grand Ballroom to chat, eat and dance with GW students for the eighth annual Senior Prom Sunday afternoon.
Students and seniors clad in shiny masks and colorful beads attended the event – which was Mardi Gras-themed this year – to dance to the music of ’80s icons like Michael Jackson and Cyndi Lauper.
“The goal is to honor the lives and legacies of seniors throughout the District of Columbia and to share that legacy with GW students,” said Timothy Kane, director of GW’s Office of Community Service, during an address to the crowd.
Kane said many of the seniors in attendance turn out for the Senior Prom every year because they enjoy the company of college students.
“I find it very refreshing to get a view of life from a perspective very different from where we are,” said Madylnn Desjardins, a senior who came to the prom with her husband.
Francis Johnson Daskins, a retired special education teacher who has lived in D.C. her entire life, said the GW students she spoke with impressed her.
“I found they are very involved in what they are doing,” Daskins said. “I like to see students that are serious about what they want to do.”
Graduate student and basketball player Jeff Alston volunteered with some of his teammates, and said he and the rest of his teammates who volunteered enjoyed giving back to the community that supports the basketball program.
“The seniors were enthusiastic and eager to meet new people. They really enjoyed being with GW students,” Alston said.
“I know how much it means to the senior citizens to have good conversations, listen to them, spend sometime with them,” Alston added.
Chase Magnuson, the director of the Office of Planned Giving, has only been working at GW for seven months but was already impressed by the generosity of the students.
“At almost every other university you would be hard pressed to find 150 student volunteers,” Magnuson said. “It shows a real connection to the community. The culture is one of service.”
Emily Baer-Bositis, a Neighbors Project service coordinator, started planning the prom in September and was thrilled with how various student organizations collaborated to ensure the day was a success.
“I’ve done a lot of special service events and it never fails to amaze me what a great attitude everyone has,” Baer-Bositis said of the Senior Prom crowd. “Many of the volunteers don’t have a lot of experience talking with seniors but once they sit down with them they don’t miss a beat.”
Overall, Kane said the event was a success.
“One senior citizen said she loved coming here every year because she feels too spoiled,” Kane said. “And that’s the best compliment we could get.”