Idaho Moment: Timberline High ‘prom’ helps seniors stay forever young

In a room bathed in the colorful glow of disco lights and with the bass of dance music reverberating against the walls, a prom queen made her way to the front of the stage to receive her crown. Far from the typical prom queen, 100-year-old Grace Dennis was taking part in the 9th annual Senior Prom for senior citizens hosted by Timberline High School’s Wolf Connection Leadership program.

Wolf Connection Leadership is described by Timberline teacher and leadership director Kelly Gonser as an “opportunity for high school students to work with other student leaders in a variety of areas, ranging from peer mentoring, to being an ambassador to all new students who come to Timberline, to performing community leadership projects.” Students and staff nominate worthy students each year, and the top students are chosen based on their leadership potential. Students in the program have been visiting with seniors at numerous retirement and care centers in the area for the last three months, and the senior prom allowed seniors to interact with the students over music, food and games.

Timberline Senior Cassidy Richey, who participated in the prom, said, “I think a lot of people tend to think of young adults and senior citizens as being very different – but they’re actually very similar in many ways. Senior citizens have been where we are and it’s always amazing to hear what they’ve gone through, but most of all, they just want to have fun.”

And have fun they did. As “Uptown Funk” thumped over the speakers, Grace danced with 18-year-old Timberline senior Machiah Baker, her face holding a smile alive with joy which, for a moment at least, bridged the generation gap between young and old.

The leadership program represents much of what is good about the younger generation. Students taking time out of their busy schedule to give back, sharing their joy and energy with seniors. Cassidy Richey summed up the night perfectly by adding, “I heard so many comments from the (seniors) there that they really didn’t want to go back to their homes because they were having so much fun. Hearing that and seeing the many smiles on the faces of the senior citizens made all the hard work worth it. In the end it didn’t matter what decorations we used or that the lasagna was never served, because their happiness is always worth it.”