Senior to senior: Ludlowe class treats elders to breakfast
On the morning of prom, most high school seniors are generally preoccupied with thoughts of hair and nail appointments and other last-minute details, but with the long-anticipated event less than 12 hours away about three dozen Fairfield Ludlowe High School seniors put others before themselves.
The students voluntarily headed to the school cafeteria early Friday morning to serve breakfast to about 100 local senior citizens, share stories and get to know their older visitors better. The high school seniors serving town seniors event is held annually, and the guests look forward to it.
"We've been coming every year. We enjoy the music and the fellowship. They play the big band songs from World War II," said Milton Forstrom, 85, who attended the event with his wife Jane Forstrom, 84, a member of the Roger Ludlowe High School Class of 1946.
The high school jazz band, led by band director Sam Eckhardt, opened with "Orange Colored Sky" sung by soloist Casey Clifford, 17, followed by Frank Sinatra's "Come Fly with Me" sung by Steve Autore, 18.
Eckhardt told the crowd at one point that the next song was recently recorded by Michael Buble "but you might recognize the Dean Martin version," he said before signaling the band to start "Sway." Earlier, he mentioned another old time classic by Count Basie titled "Until I Met You." "You might know it as `Corner Pocket'," he told the senior citizens.
"I think it's great that the (high school) seniors can give back to their elders in a jazz-filled breakfast," said Heather Hayes, 17.
Some of the visitors sang along. Others clapped in time to the music. Taylor Zadravecz, 17, encouraged classmates to ask their counterparts to dance. Reveley Poler, 18, got Helen Dobyan, 87, on her feet, and Collin Mackay, 18, spun Nancy Legare, 73, on the dance floor.
"I love dancing. I really enjoyed that. He was good. He said he didn't know how to dance, but he did just fine," Legare said.
"We're all getting to know each other; one side of the community to the other," said Andrew Walsh, 18, who took breakfast orders, delivered meals to seniors and cleared tables.
Among the many repeat "customers" were a few new-comers. Carolyn Durgy, 78, said she retired recently and she took advantage of the free morning time. "I can do what I want to do. At 78 it's time to stop and smell the roses," she said, adding that the aroma in the cafeteria was more of pancakes, maple syrup and sausages than flowers.
"This is really neat. It's a generational thing. It's a relationship between young people and the elderly, if that's what you want to call us. They get to know how many of us there are. They get a sense of people with walkers and canes. That's a good thing," Durgy said.
Margaret Cole, 78, said she came to see friends and "to see the young people. It's really good to see the kids," she said.
Zadravecz said it was worth getting up a little earlier, and on prom day no less, because "it's a good gesture and they appreciate it. Look at all the smiling."
"It's kind of invigorating to see the smiles on their faces. It's one of the highlights of my life here (at school)," said Tony Samuelian, a school counselor, who also helped serve breakfast.
"It's a fun time for them and also us. I like talking to them and hearing their stories," Poler said.
And they did swap stories. Carl Johnson, Ludlowe Class of 1946, talked about how things have changed dramatically since his youth. "It was a sleepy town before. When I started in school in Fairfield there was just one building and it was heated by a coal stove," he said.
"I can remember dirt roads and the trolley cars. This town has grown," Jane Forstrom said.
Ann McCallie, 76, summed it up for most of the senior citizens. "They throw a nice party," she said.