Middle school's `senior' prom brings generations together


May 15, 2001|By Betsy Diehl | Betsy Diehl,SPECIAL TO THE SUN

OWEN BROWN Middle School pupils held a senior prom last week, complete with music, dancing and food. But one detail made this prom different from most - the seniors at this gala were senior citizens from the Owen Brown Senior Center Plus program.

Thursday's event was a celebration of friendship between the senior citizens and a group of about 20 pupils who has been visiting the senior center twice a month for crafts, games and conversation since the fall.

"It's fun to help other people. You get a good feeling out of seeing them smile and be happy," said eighth-grader Laura Mayrovitz, one of the prom's organizers. She and Cassie Cherone, also an eighth-grader, are student leaders of the group.

The school and senior center established a partnership 10 years ago as a link between generations, said Gifted and Talented Program teacher Cara Cassell, who oversees the program. Cassell credits the schoolchildren with doing most of the organizing for the luau-theme prom.

"The students did everything. They invited everyone to participate," she said.

Laura, Cassie and Joseph Perez, also an eighth-grader, enlisted help from the community for the prom. They secured donations of food and supplies from businesses and a cash contribution from real estate agent Melvina Brown.

"I think it's really important to support kids who are doing positive things. It's nice for kids to learn how to reach out to the community," Brown said.

For prom day, the trio transformed the school's art room into a Hawaiian paradise resplendent with bright decorations and an abundance of food. Art teacher Pinkie Strother did not mind lending her classroom for the day.

"The kids are very committed to the senior citizens," she said, adding that she arranged for her art pupils to work on landscape paintings outside that day. The seniors seemed to enjoy the lunch that the children served to them, but it was the youths' good manners that elicited rave reviews.

"They are so sweet. I like their attitudes," senior Virgie Bryan said.

After lunch, the school's chorus performed three songs, followed by a lively musical set by the jazz band. No one could sit still, and the room came alive with dancers young and old.

This was to be the last gathering of the group. Physical education teacher Marci Smit helped the children create a memento for the seniors - a scrapbook filled with photos of the activities they had shared over the past months. But Cassell said that Senior Center Plus Director Vivi Provine persuaded the youths to squeeze in two more visits before the end of the school year.

The prom was not the tearful parting some expected, but Cassell noted, "There were tears from people's shoes hurting their feet from all that dancing!"

Also participating were eighth-graders Rachel Rager, Becky Davis, Lauren Zonteck, Johanna Haydon, Justin Gregg, Anthony Evans, Shateim Mills, Alicia Spruill; seventh-grader Brian Creamer; sixth-graders Becky Mayrovitz, Bridget Cherone, Marilyn Chaverria, Rick Gonzales, Dustin Morris, Brandon Dever and Katie Collett.

Adult volunteers Anne Cherone, Shannon Cherone, Jennifer Mayrovitz, Tracie Perez, Candace Cotton and Sonia Bows also helped.

Student inducted

Tania Chapasko, daughter of Michael and Sandra Chapasko of Oakland Mills, was recently inducted into the Phi Eta Sigma freshman honor society at Salisbury State University. Membership in the society requires a grade point average of at least 3.5 during the freshman year.

"She does real well. We've always been very proud of her," Sandra Chapasko said.

Tania, a 1999 graduate of Oakland Mills High School, is a sophomore business administration major at the Franklin P. Perdue School of Business.


You might not expect psychology and singing to go together, but local performer Brad Sachs fuses the two to great effect. He combines his experience as a psychologist with his musical talents to compose entertaining folksongs that he will perform from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. Saturday at Unitarian Universalist Congregation's One World Coffeehouse at Owen Brown Interfaith Center.

"He takes the stories of his patients and winds them into folksongs," said congregation member Sheri Spandau, noting that Sachs is careful to maintain his patients' confidentiality.

The coffeehouse will also feature congregation members Karen Johnson and Kathy Smith singing jazz, blues and Broadway favorites.

Admission is $10 for adults; free for children to age 12.

Information: 410-381-0097.

Parting words

When Nick Kyritsopoulos was a lad, there were no senior proms - or any proms for that matter.

"When I was a kid, you just graduated and that was it," said Kyritsopoulos, owner of Kings Contrivance Formal Wear and Custom Tailoring and a native of Greece. Although he did not grow up with proms, Kyritsopoulos is now a big fan of the tradition.

"Business picks up about 30 percent during prom season," he said, adding that he rents "a couple of hundred" tuxedos in a typical weekend this time of year.

And back in his homeland? "Things change. Now you have proms and spring break. TV gives kids different ideas," he said.

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