At first glance, the dance partners didn’t appear to have much in common.
One group comes from the generation of Snapchat and TikTok. The other remembers dance cards and dates at the drive-in.
One group stores their music on their phones. The other grew up collecting records.
Some are seniors in high school. Others are just seniors.
But, when DJ Barry “The Music Mann” Redemann began spinning tunes like “Good Golly Miss Molly,” “The Twist,” and “Stand By Your Man,” the generational gap faded away and the students and senior citizens alike hit the dance floor for some post-lunch fun Tuesday at the Newark Senior Center.
“It was fun listening to the different stories they have and dancing with them,” Hodgson Vo-Tech senior Arjun Shah said. “We got pretty boogie.”
Shah and 32 of his fellow National Honor Society members from Hodgson organized the Valentine’s Day dance at the senior center as part of their community service program.
This is the second year the school has organized the dance, advisor Kelly Bench said. Another year, students sponsored a Memorial Day picnic for the seniors.
The students raised money for the dance and other service projects through T-shirt and candle sales, Bench said. They decorated the senior center’s dining room with balloons and other Valentine’s Day decorations and brought cupcakes to hand out.
“It’s great for the students to give back, especially to the older population, and hear their stories,” Bench said. “It’s fun. The kids really enjoy it.”
Some of the students were a bit hesitant, unsure of what they could talk to the seniors about. However, once the dancing started, smiles abounded as they all danced together.
“I love helping people,” Hodgson senior Samantha Dawson said. “I appreciate all the things they’ve done before us and want to give back.”
Kelly Riale, volunteer coordinator for the senior center, said the center’s members always look forward to when student groups come in.
“It means a lot. They love the kids,” Riale said. “They’re so happy dancing with the kids.”
Bench added that the event has lasting impacts for her students.
“We’ll go home on the bus and they’ll say, ‘I should call my grandparents more,’” she said.