TULSA - Public relations students at Oral Roberts University needed some real-world event planning experience. To get it, their professor suggested a prom for senior citizens.
The lesson soon became much more, as the students found themselves making a difference in the lives of the seniors by giving them a night to remember.
The night of fun kicked off with a red-carpet welcome for the residents of St. Simeon’s Senior Community.
Student greeters handed roses to the ladies and traded introductions with the gentlemen. The red carpet set the stage for the night’s theme, “Vintage Hollywood.”
Whether guests strolled in or rolled in in wheelchairs, most couldn’t wait to dance, just as if it were their high school prom. A few like Izzy Levine needed some coaxing from students like Emily Porter. She encouraged him to get out for a spin on the dance floor in his wheelchair.
“I wish I could have stood up and danced with my wife, but my balance isn’t worth a darn now,” Levine said.
Levine said he didn’t remember much about his high school days 68 years ago or its prom. Nonetheless, he will fondly remember this prom and how hard students like Porter worked to make him and the other attendees feel special.
That’s just the reaction Porter hoped to achieve.
“We really want to make them feel like they were back at their senior prom,” she said
The night did take Ruth Kraemer back.
“It’s kind of fun to do something like that that you didn’t do for a long while,” Kraemer said.
Rather than learning event planning from a textbook, students had to plan the event out specifically for people who had a prom decades ago, when such events featured dancing, cake, punch and games.
The students chose movie trivia for their game. All the clues came from movies from the golden age of Hollywood, the ‘30s, ‘40s and '50s.”
ORU Assistant Professor of Media Chris Putman said her students quickly discovered they could relate to “clients” of any age.
“What they’re doing is not only just seeing the mechanics of pulling together and event, but they’re actually seeing the effect that it has on their audience,” she said.
However, Putman believes the most important thing the students learned was that they were making a difference in the lives of these senior citizens simply by giving them a night to remember at their second senior prom.