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‘Senior Prom’ draws crowd at Heritage Woods

Published: Friday, May 3, 2013 5:30 a.m. CDT
(Curtis Clegg – cclegg@shawmedia.com)
Lifelong DeKalb resident Florence Kuzan, 93, dances with Northern Illinois University freshman Garrett Aiken on Thursday at the Senior Prom at Heritage Woods in DeKalb. Aiken is the philanthropy chairman for his fraternity, Alpha Kappa Lambda, and he and six of his fraternity brothers spent the evening dancing with the women at Heritage Woods.

DeKALB – The first “Senior Prom” at Heritage Woods of DeKalb assisted living community brought about 50 residents to the community room and helped foster some new relationships and strengthen old ones.

“I met her after the war, World War II,” said resident Robert Jorgensen about his wife, Irene, as the couple listened to the music and watched people dance. The couple has been married for 66 years and live at Heritage Woods together.

“He is singing songs from the ’40s and ’50s,” Jorgensen said about the nostalgic songs that were performed by crooner Larry Breidenbach of McHenry.

Henry Joesten and his wife Beverly, also residents of Heritage Woods, have been married for 67 years. While the Jorgensens and Beverly Joesten did not dance, Henry Joesten took to the dance floor with some of the younger attendees, including Northern Illinois University graduate student Liz McAllister and Paige Lee, 16, who is the daughter of the facility’s residential service coordinator, Julie Krueger.

“It’s to have fun and to bring back old memories,” Krueger said about the prom. “They really get into the music.”

Joesten was one of the few male residents of Heritage Woods who dances at the various social events at the facility, so Krueger has recruited volunteers from NIU to dance with the women who live there.

“I heard about this [senior prom] after the Sweetheart Dance and I wanted to come back,” said NIU freshman Garrett Aiken about another dance in February. He was one of seven members of the Alpha Kappa Lambda fraternity who volunteered to dance with the women.

“They can dance,” said Aiken, the fraternity’s philanthropy chairman, about the women at Heritage Woods. “They can outdance us and they showed us the moves.”

However, Aiken and his friends do manage to keep the ladies of Heritage Woods on their toes. At the Sweetheart Dance in February, they taught the ladies to do the Chicken Dance, and at the Senior Prom they demonstrated the YMCA dance.

Inez Wilton, 90, enjoyed every minute of the evening chatting with friends, listening to music and watching the others dance.

“I don’t feel old and I don’t act old, but I guess I should,” she said.

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