HILLSIDE, NJ — Glamorous ladies and their handsome escorts filled the Hillside High School cafeteria Friday May 27, as Hillside’s senior citizens gathered to enjoy an evening of dinner and dancing at the first Senior Citizen’s Prom.
Going along with its doo-wop theme, the room was decorated with a large, hand-painted jukebox banner and balloons, and oldies music played as couples moved out onto the dance floor.
The event was the brainchild of Catherine Martins, advisor for the SADD club — Students Against Destructive Decisions — at the high school.
Martins said that organizing the event took plenty of planning and coordination. “The planning for this event required a lot of fundraising,” said Martins. “From September to May, the students raised $400 through various fundraising events held within the high school. In addition, members of the club would donate monies toward the event.”
Hillside high school principal Christine Sidwa said she was all for the idea when she was approached by Martins. “Around the end of September, Ms. Martins approached me about the idea of a senior prom for our senior citizens and I thought it was a fantastic idea and told her to go for it,” said Sidwa.
Once the paperwork was submitted to the board of education and approval granted, plans were set into motion.
According to Sidwa, Hillside Mayor Angela Garretson sent over tables and chairs, as well as corsages and boutonnieres from a local florist, and Hillside’s police and fire departments were happy to act as escorts to the ladies as they walked the red carpet.
Margaret Keryger was all decked out in her prom best. “It’s nice to get out,” said Keryger. “It reminds me of when I used to go dancing,” she said, recalling her weekends of dancing at the Westwood in Cranford.
Marian Combs, a Hillside resident for 43 years, was glowing. “This is really exciting to me now that I’m here,” said Combs. “I haven’t experienced anything like this since high school.”
Students at the school were on hand to help serve and assist the guests. Albert Reese, 16, looking sharp in gray dress slacks, suspenders and a bow tie, said that he is a member of the SADD club and was excited to be a part of the event. “We came up with this prom idea to help the senior citizens of Hillside, so I volunteered,” said Reese.
According to Sidwa, she, along with Martins, were amazed as they watched Hillside’s youth interact with the senior population. “It was truly remarkable. Watching our students escorting, engaging, dancing and interacting with the seniors made me feel extremely proud that I am the principal of such a remarkable school. People often focus on the negatives of a high school but this event proves that students have it going on.”
According to Martins, the SADD program plans on holding a Bingo Night for Hillside’s seniors next year. “SADD is looking forward to recruiting new members with new and exciting ideas for next year that most certainly involve our seniors,” said Martins.