Senior prom. For almost all of us, that term evokes memories. Our first formal gown/time in a tuxedo. All night parties with friends. And if we’re being honest, worrying a lot about how we would appear to others, feeling awkwardI in those fancy clothes, and, maybe even some unhealthy behaviors (I said if we’re being honest). Wondering who would be “in” and not in that crowd. Ugh.
So when I learned about a senior prom to take place at our Brighton campus, I admit a bit of skepticism and even negative associations. Well, erase those images! I now have only positive associations!
The senior prom is a joint JCHE/CJP event. CJP has this incredible program called Young Leadership Division (YLD) where young adults join together for fun, social justice, community service, and expanding social networks. For years now, they have chosen to make JCHE a place for volunteering, and came up with this concept of a very special evening of talking, eating, mutual learning, and, most of all, listening/sharing
This year’s senior prom – A Kid in a Candy Shop – was held last week. The young leaders (about 75 of them) came two hours early to set up the room and prepare, and, of course, to socialize. They set up tables with activities designed to draw out our seniors—one table asked people to share their favorite candy bar; at another to remember a favorite song. Candy and decorations adorned every table, and the young leaders spread themselves out to enable the senior/youth connection. And, because this was a prom afterall, there was dancing—but not the awkward, worry-about-how-you-look kind, but free spirited whirling around the dance floor and enjoyment of the connection.
Our residents will talk about this evening for months to come. Quite contrary to how I remember proms, everyone participated and everyone was accepted! We hope to keep up the connections that were fostered between residents and their new friends. And hats off to CJP and their young leaders: your warmth, your creativity and your sincerity produced the magic that should always be associated with a senior prom.
Dancers Molly Chadis and David Shonfeld
Photographer: Dara E. Stern