For over 20 years, the Glen Cove Senior Center has hosted its annual Senior Ball. During this eagerly awaited event, students from Glen Cove High School head to the center to help the city’s seniors enjoy dinner, dessert and dancing by serving, cleaning up and even joining them out on the dance floor.
This year’s ball took place on May 18. About 70 seniors were treated to a show by the high school’s 20-piece jazz band. They also enjoyed a three-course meal of salad, chicken parmesan with pasta and sorbet. Music from over a half dozen decades was played throughout the evening by DJ John Macchione, ranging from “Tutti Frutti” by Little Richard to Robin Thicke’s “Blurred Lines.”
According to Mark Gerlich, a business teacher at GCHS, the students who attended the ball are all part of Glen Cove’s chapter of the Distributive Education Club of America, an international organization geared toward promoting leadership and entrepreneurship within students, which Gerlich heads at GCHS. Glen Cove’s DECA club includes about 200 students, roughly 60 of whom helped with the event. Gerlich said the students get school credits by attending the ball, and that they also like giving back to the community by helping the seniors.
“It’s great to get the community together, especially to get the senior citizens together, and just to make them happy,” said Christina Cavallone, 18, a senior who serves as president of DECA.
On how it feels to see so many students attending, Cavallone said, “It’s actually pretty rewarding because you ask people to help out and volunteer, and then when they actually show up and volunteer, it makes me feel very honored and very happy that they actually want to be a part of something big.”
High school senior Latifa Fakhry, 17, has volunteered at the Senior Ball all of the years she has been in high school. “It’s a lot of fun,” she said. “I enjoy it, I enjoy helping out.” Fakhry also described this as a typical day for her, as she spends a great deal of her time volunteering in a variety of capacities, including working with Glen Cove EMS and the fire department.
The seniors enjoyed being able to interact with people that were generations younger. “I think it’s a great experience for [the students], and I think it helps a lot of the seniors here…,” said Camille Madigan, 73. “It’s wonderful that they do that.”
Diane Romano, 75, said she enjoys watching the younger people mouth the words to the songs as they start to loosen up, eventually making their way to the dance floor along with their older counterparts. She appreciates the ball’s ability to let the students open up, she said, and connect with the people around them, whether they be seniors or peers.
“These are good people that are around the young people, so it’s really good for them,” said Romano. “All you have to do is just observe and you will see . . . and it’s a joy to see.”
“We make them feel good, and they make us feel good,” Romano added.
At the end of the night, seniors were encouraged to enter raffles for 25 different prizes, that included food, wine and all sorts of accessories. The ball’s finale consisted of all of the seniors, students and center’s staff dancing together to “That’s What Friends Are For” by Dionne Warwick.
Eric Shuman, activities coordinator at the senior center, said the ball was fantastic, the seniors loved it and the students did a great job. He explained that it was nice for the seniors to feel cared for and loved, as many of them have very little interaction with people outside of the center. He also said that he hopes the experience helped change the lives of the students as well.
“I hope that they realize that the senior population in the city needs our assistance and should be taken care of and should be appreciated,” Shuman said. “I hope that they feel good about giving back something to their community.”