When the time came to choose a partner for the Sheila Shag, Matthew Brooks, 19, announced he had dibs on 72-year-old Ruth Levee Outman.
"She's my woman," said Brooks, who will be a senior at Meade High School in September. "We make a great team. She really knows how to move."
The dance class that Brooks and Outman attended Monday at the Pascal Senior Center in Glen Burnie is part of an intergenerational project co-sponsored by the center and Manpower, a county-run youth employment training program funded by a state grant.
Every Monday for the past seven weeks, the teen-agers and seniors have met for hourlongdiscussion groups led by Manpower supervisor Lorraine Robinson-Bey, capped off by hourlong dance classes taught by Spero Pappafotis.
"I'm a walking advertisement for what staying active can do for someone my age," said Outman, who took a momentary respite from dipping, twirling and shimmying to the sounds of "Sweet Georgia Brown."
In ever-so-lady-like fashion, Outman, a newlywed of five weeks, lifted herskirt just high enough to reveal 12-inch scars on both knees from artificial joint replacement surgery she underwent 2 1/2 years ago. Shemet her husband, Bob Outman, 66, at the center five years ago.
"These kids keep me young. Absolutely the most delightful I've ever met," Outman said.
The 10 students who visited the Pascal center are enrolled in Manpower's Summer Team Citizenship Program. In addition to working 30 hours a week for $4.25 an hour at various county officesand schools, the teens are enrolled in a remedial citizenship class.The citizenship examination they will take tomorrow is a state graduation requirement. Manpower offers a remedial mathematics class as well.
"Bringing the two groups together has been a tremendous experience for all involved," said Pam Nuestadt, training manager for Manpower.
"Three years ago when I started this summer program, I had second thoughts about whether the teens' and seniors' personalities would click," Nuestadt said. "But (the Pascal center) has more energy under one roof than any place I've seen. The seniors get a chance to share their knowledge and life experiences with the students, and the students keep the seniors up to date on current trends and issues."
The topic of Monday's discussion group was goal-setting. Robinson-Bey asked the participants to write their short-term goals and list steps to achieve them.
Annetta DeWitt, 15, a junior at Glen Burnie High, said her immediate task was to pass the citizenship test so she wouldn't have to take it again. DeWitt hopes that her newly found study skills will help her during the school year.
Louvinia Hall, 82, plans to maintain good health through proper rest, exercise and nutrition. Mary Todd, 77, hopes she can find someone to care for her plants when she goes on vacation to Daytona Beach, Fla., later this month.
"I guess I'll have to start being extra nice to my neighbors," Todd said.
Other subjects the group has discussed include parenting,values and attitudes and the virtues of education.
At the end of this final session, teens and seniors reminisced about how much they had learned about each other and how they were going to miss the weekly visits.
"I'm really gonna miss you all laughing at my jokes," Damon Bright, 17, of Meade High, told the seniors.
"Even when they weren't that funny, you guys would still laugh. You seemed to really appreciate our company," Bright said.