Vintage Park residents have ‘senior’ prom

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Freshman Greg Bradford dances with Vintage Park resident Barbara Riley on Saturday at Vintage Park Assisted Living Community in Baldwin City. Members of the freshman honor’s salon class taught by Brett Knappe, assistant professor of art history, hosted a senior prom for the senior citizens as part of their community service project for the semester.

Freshman Greg Bradford dances with Vintage Park resident Barbara Riley on Saturday at Vintage Park Assisted Living Community in Baldwin City. Members of the freshman honor’s salon class taught by Brett Knappe, assistant professor of art history, hosted a senior prom for the senior citizens as part of their community service project for the semester. Photo by Hannah Schaake.

Sandwiched between bingo and a John Wayne movie on Saturday, a freshman honors’ salon class hosted Senior Prom for residents of the Vintage Park Assisted Living Community in Baldwin City.

Brett Knappe, assistant professor of art history, and senior Kat Fritz’s honors’ salon class, Great Artists Conquer All, put together the prom as their community service project for the semester. Ten students attended the prom.

“It’s not huge, but hopefully it will bring some joy to the lives of seniors,” Fritz said. “That’s all that matters.”

On Saturday afternoon, balloons and streamers filled the dining room. The music consisted of songs from the 1940s and 1950s, including Frank Sinatra and the Rat Pack.

“Everyone was in charge of different tasks,” Fritz said. “A couple people put together the music, a couple people baked cupcakes, some brought decorations.”

The prom was laid back. Some residents sat in the dining room, circled around the makeshift dance floor. Others sat in the common area, just listening to the music.

“A lot of us are just watching the kids dance and enjoying the music,” Barbara Riley, Vintage Park resident, said.

Riley, 80, was one of the few residents who danced.

“My husband and I danced all the time when he was alive,” Riley said. “But we mostly danced to country and western music.”

Riley moved to Baldwin in 1963 from Linwood with her husband. She was a school bus driver for the Baldwin City school district, so she was used to seeing younger kids.

Knappe encouraged his students to dance with each other, not necessarily with the senior citizens.

“They just want to see you guys dance,” Knappe said at the event. “So go out there and give them a show.”

Most of the senior participants were in wheelchairs or needed walkers, so dancing was not a real possibility.

“I think people enjoyed it even though they couldn’t dance,” Riley said. “Some just can’t get around anymore.”

Christa Kidd, the weekend activities coordinator for Vintage Park, helped organize the event.

“The goal is to just get (the residents) out of their rooms and see some new faces,” Kidd said. “They like to see other people have fun.”

Kidd hopes to see more events like the senior prom brought to Vintage Park to help break the routine. This was not the first senior prom at Vintage Park, but it was the first time Baker students were involved. Kidd hopes to see more college students in the future.

“I think the students … well, all of us, gained something from it,” Fritz said. “You can learn so much from hanging out with your elders.”

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