WMU News

Students add new wrinkles to Senior Prom night

March 21, 2004

KALAMAZOO--Fans of the extreme makeover trend can forget reality TV and become part of the show by attending Western Michigan University's 16th annual Senior Prom from 7 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, March 31, in the East Ballroom of the Bernhard Center.

WMU students have added a touch of gray and more than a few new wrinkles to transform the traditional senior prom into a fun-filled evening for Southwest Michigan residents and the University community.

The semi-formal event brings hundreds of area senior citizens together with WMU students, faculty and staff for a night of Big Band music and swing dancing.

Admission is free, and those who arrive 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.

The theme for this year is "Sweet 16." 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 2004 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 on as well as off campus have been helping plan this year's event," says Emilee Frederick, programming chairperson for Draper/Siedschlag Residence halls and the student coordinator for the prom. "I'm learning a lot and have been having a lot of fun."

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

Jessica Watson, one of the prom's student organizers who is serving as dance lesson coordinator, notes that students traditionally prepare for the event 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 are able to brief the novice swing dancers in such areas as hairstyles and fashions of the period.

To get the word out about the prom, organizers rely on mail invitations, announcements at area senior citizen centers, and newspaper advertisements and stories. A personal invitation is not necessary to attend.

For more information, contact Sena LaPean at (269) 387-4581 or <lapeans@groupwise.wmich.edu> or call Chris Sligh, director of Draper/Siedschlag Residence halls, at (269) 387-4790.

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

WMU News
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