WMU News

Area seniors, students ready to conjure up enchanted evening

March 20, 2003

KALAMAZOO -- Hundreds of area residents will be adding to the magic of prom night by teaching Western Michigan University students new tricks on the dance floor during the 15th annual Senior Prom from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 26, in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.

The free, semi-formal event brings Southwest Michigan senior citizens together with WMU students, faculty and staff for a night of Big Band music and swing dancing. This year's prom theme is "The Best is yet to Come."

Those arriving early will be able to warm up by participating in Early Bird Bingo from 5 to 7 p.m. Early-bird activities were introduced in 1993 to accommodate the many seniors who prefer to arrive before the dancing starts and spend their entire evening on campus.

Music will be provided by the Phoenix Big Band, a 15-piece ensemble from Kalamazoo that has been providing music for the prom since the event's inception. In keeping with previous years, refreshments, photo keepsakes, dance contests and prizes will enliven the evening.

The Senior Prom began in 1989 as a way for older WMU alumni and area residents to share an evening of fun and reminiscing with current students. The event gradually grew in popularity and last year, attracted some 450 senior citizens and members of the University community.

The 2003 prom is being coordinated by the Draper/Siedschlag residence halls with assistance from a half-dozen committees and scores of volunteers. Area businesses are again donating prizes.

"Student leaders who live both on and off campus have been helping plan this year's event," says Sarah Weaver, graduate assistant for Draper/Siedschlag. "They've just been a great group, and we've kept them extremely busy."

Financial assistance for the event is being provided by several WMU organizations, including Residence Life, the Residence Hall Association, various residence hall councils and Auxiliary Enterprises.

Weaver notes that students traditionally prepare for the prom by teaming up with senior citizen tutors in mid-March to learn the fox trot, waltz, Lindy and other dance steps popular in the 1940s. The seniors also can brief them on topics such as authentic hairstyles and fashions of the period.

To get the word out about the event, organizers rely on mail invitations, announcements at area senior citizen centers, and newspaper advertisements and stories. A personal invitation is not necessary to attend, but for planning purposes, those wishing to participate are encouraged to call in a reservation.

For more information or to make a reservation, contact Weaver at (269) 387-4581 or <weavers@groupwise.wmich.edu>. Those interested also may call Chris Sligh, director of Draper/Siedschlag, at (269) 387-4790.

Media contact: Jeanne Baron, 269 387-8400, jeanne.baron@wmich.edu

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