LONG REACH High School students held a "Spring Fling" for residents of nearby retirement communities Friday. The afternoon dance was a joyful welcome to the season.
Bright sunlight and lively music filled the school's atrium as two generations boogied to the "Electric Slide" and the "Chicken."
The dance was organized by the school's branch of the National Honor Society and the Howard County Office on Aging.
"It's a real pleasure to see young people of all ages having fun together," said Principal Dave Bruzga, stopping by before leaving for spring break.
The spacious lobby was transformed into a miniature ballroom in which students and guests twirled and twisted the afternoon away. Those not dancing socialized on the sidelines. A tuxedo-clad disc jockey kept the action lively.
Lillian Downs, a 10-year resident of Longwood House, remarked, "I think it's great for the kids to go on like this." The native New Yorker is a former Radio City Music Hall employee.
Downs was sitting with Wilma Dunlap and Sally Tamburo, both from neighboring Shalom Square.
The women burst out laughing when Tamburo cheerfully added, "If we could dance, we'd dance rings around them all."
Student Christi Hollis came up with the idea for the event at the Honor Society's spring project planning session.
"We wanted to do something totally for someone else," the teen-ager said. She added that when she proposed the seniors' dance, "As soon as they heard it, people just said, `Yeah!' "
The senior citizens were equally enthusiastic. "I'm having a ball," said Ellicott City resident Sonia Burton.
Burton, who is semiretired, works part time as an administrative assistant for a speech pathologist.
"I'm having a great time," she said. "We did some line dances. The kids are real nice."
Valu Food donated cookies, pies and a decorated sheet cake for the dance.
Party! Party! Party! provided balloons. Wessel's Florist had red and pink carnations for everybody, and Chris Bedke's Creative Deejays kept the crowd dancing.
Carol Lancaster, director of Longwood Senior Center, said she began working with the students four weeks ago to plan the dance.
"They called up with an idea, and we picked a date," she said.
Trisha Olsen, assistant director of the Office of Aging, had high praise for the Long Reach students.
"The kids did all the work. They did a beautiful job. We're hoping this is a yearly event," she said.
"I had a lot of good comments from the kids and the seniors," said student Derek Griggs, vice president of the National Honor Society. "This was definitely a good idea."
When it was time to go, the guests lingered. Hugs and thanks from students and guests spanned the age gap.
"It was a wonderful intergenerational affair," said faculty adviser Anne Sullivan, summing up the day with pride in her school and its students.
Brownies welcome spring
On March 23, Brownie Troop 1410 had a "Welcome Spring" party with residents of the recently opened Brighton Gardens Assisted Living Community on Minstrel Way.
Brownie moms Jeanne Bowers and Lori Sharpe originated the idea of visiting the retirement community as a Brownie service project.
Brighton Gardens activity director Jennie Maurer was thrilled to get the call and agreed to have the Brownies visit after school.
The senior residence opened in December, and because only nine of the 104 suites are filled, everybody got plenty of attention. The children drew residents' names from a hat to choose an older partner for the party.
At troop meetings in the weeks before the visit, the girls prepared for the project.
They wrote invitations to the residents, asking them to come to a party in the Brighton Gardens activity room.
The girls made silk flower door-hangers to decorate the entrance of each suite.
The Brownies painted little flower pots for a pansy-planting activity.
Finally, they prepared eggs to be decorated with colorful markers and Easter stickers as part of an Easter egg tree that would be displayed in the facility's living room.
Laden with bags of craft supplies and goodies were troop members Lara Feezel, Chelsea Feezel, Jordan Hoshko, Hannah Jefferson, Catherine Daniels, Karin McGinnis, Molly Barnes, Alison Sharpe, Sarah Thorne, Miranda Cantori, Nicole Kaufmann, Melena Silva, Tiana Paneto, Hattie Robinson, Bryonny Rogers, Morgan Walbert and Laraine Freund. They entered Brighton Gardens behind troop leaders Terri Kaufmann and Dena Daniels to meet the residents who awaited them.
After the excited Brownies got settled, activity director Maurer took the troop on a tour of the community. As they went, the girls hung their silk-flower bouquets on the doorknobs of the suites.
While planting flowers and decorating eggs, the senior citizens and Brownies enjoyed homemade cupcakes and Easter breads the girls had brought.
Columbia on ice
The Columbia Figure Skating Club will present "That's Entertainment" at the Columbia Ice Rink on Thunderhill Road at Oakland Mills Village Center.
The cast features many east Columbia neighbors, including Nina Charity, who will skate the lead role from "A Chorus Line."
Show dates are April 17 and 18.
Tickets are $8. Children younger than 3 get in free. Purchase in advance is recommended.
Information: Donna Burrows, 410-461-9948, or Veronica Battisti, 410-381-4918.
Pub Date: 3/30/99