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Seniors enjoy their own 'senior' prom

  • SUSAN LAYLAND/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Diane and Rod LaBarre have are photographed in front of an exotic Polynesian backdrop.
    SUSAN LAYLAND/SPECIAL TO THE TIMES NEWS Diane and Rod LaBarre have are photographed in front of an exotic Polynesian backdrop.
Published May 12. 2011 05:01PM

Saturday night was the ninth annual Senior Prom at Northern Lehigh Middle School. The seniors were not the students but seniors who, for the most part, are receiving Social Security.

The eighth-grade honor society students planned the event from beginning to end, including raising funds in October by selling pumpkin rolls. They prepared a meal, with the help of Susan Bowser, their home economics teacher that included ham, mashed potatoes and vegetables.

This event merged and united generations in a way that was not only inspirational, but fun.

Many of the prom guests were the grandparents of the honor society candidates, but others, like Diane and Rod LaBarre, both 1960 graduates of Slatington High School (the name before Northern Lehigh) attended with 18 other class of '60 graduates.

"It's like a reunion for us," said Diane LaBarre.

This is the couple's second Senior Prom, last year they attended with 30 people from the class of 1960.

"It's so wonderful what (the kids) do. They work really, really hard for this," Diane said, adding that every year they do a theme and cover everything from decorations to entertainment.

"There's no alcohol served; it's just a good time."

The event proving to be a good time, turned out to be an accurate statement.

The food menu was planned right down to the dessert. Each student was required to bring a cake, which was for the 'Cake Walk.'

First the women made a circle. The kids spun a huge spindle. When it stopped the recipient received a certificate that entitled her to select a cake.

This was an equal opportunity event the men were next. Cakes began to disappear from the 'cake table,' as each winner walked away with the prize.

Music played throughout the night and spanned all generations, with a heavy concentration on line dancing. It was a DJ's dream, all generations danced every dance.

The "Cotton-eyed Joe," a popular American folk song, generally associated with the American South showed off the skills and dexterity of the younger crowd, but when they played the electric slide, a dance popular in the 70s, it took a lot of concentration and focus for the 'youngsters,' to pick up on the dance moves that were being expertly executed by the seniors.

A Polynesian Dance Company, Hula Ho Aloha, entertained. They lured resistant hula dancers to center stage and everyone swayed to the story-telling dance moves. All joined in to learn how to interpret lyrics through Hawaiian dance.

One of the highlights of the night was when 91-year-old George Whitehouse got up to do the Cotton-eyed Joe. There was no dance move that Whitehouse couldn't do or didn't try.

It turns out Whitehouse not only works 40 hours a week doing AARP taxes, he credits his longevity and good health to one vitamin pill a day and a bowl of oatmeal with cinnamon and raisins every morning. There was not a moment during the prom that Whitehouse did not have a smile on his face and vigor in his walk.

A prom is not a prom without crowning the King and Queen. Saturday night's festivities were no exception to that rule. The King, John Olewine, grandfather to one of the students, and Claudette Fleischmann, were crowned and concluded the festivities with a dance on the red carpet.

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