With corsages, boutonnieres and ear-to-ear smiles, seniors -- senior citizens, that is -- cut a rug at Cathedral Catholic High School Thursday at a prom organized by students, specifically for them.
“We wanted to do this because we wanted to appreciate our seniors. Our school is one with a lot of resources and we want to be able to use them for the good of others,” said Emmy Dunsford, a senior at the school in Carmel Valley and president of the National Honors Society.
Dunsford came up with the idea to host a prom for senior citizens over the summer as a project meant to help connect the students to the community. She and fellow students recruited attendees around their neighborhoods and, balloon by balloon, the dance came together.
“[We want] them to have a good time,” she said. “They want to get out and dance. We’re not the only ones that deserve a prom.”
Thursday’s shindig featured hors d'oeuvres, drinks, live music and other entertainment. The house was packed.
Attendees included Guy DiPonio, a Carmel Valley resident who heard about the prom at mass. He and his wife decided to make a date night of it.
“It sounded like a lot of fun and it is a lot of fun,” DiPonio told NBC 7, touting the food, dancing, drinks and “good company.”
He said the crowd was on its best behavior as they boogied to songs like Elvis' "Jailhouse Rock" and then slowed it down to "At Last" by Etta James.
“We don’t need the chaperones,” he laughed. “I think we’re going to try to behave really well today.”
Rosa Nelson, who heard about the dance in a bulletin, attended with her husband and friends. She praised Cathedral Catholic High School students, including Dunsford, for putting on a great party.
“They set up a very happy afternoon for us,” Nelson said.
The prom included a little photo area where attendees could pose for a snapshot of the unforgettable evening.
Dunsford said the prom helped students and senior citizens bond, as many enjoyed conversations with one another throughout the evening. Dunsford said students have a lot to learn from them.
“It’s important to be able to talk to elders with respect,” she added.
DiPonio said the dance shows just what kind of students attend that high school.
“The kids are fantastic. They’re enthusiastic, they’re hard workers, they’re smart, and they’re very friendly,” he said. “They make you feel at home – like part of the community, part of the family.”
Frank Caro, a teacher at Cathedral Catholic High School and advisor to the National Honors Society, said the student-driven dance included many student volunteers giving their time to make the evening a success.
“[The students] want to bring a lot of love and support to people in this community that they want to reach out to,” said Caro. “This is my 13th year teaching and I think this is a really special class.”