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Prom king Bill Ortega and prom queen Ardestine Kelly dance during a senior prom at the Senior Manor in Fairfield, Friday. Armijo High School students helped organize the prom and they participated in the celebration with the residents. (Aaron Rosenblatt/Daily Republic)


Prom night an intergenerational affair at Senior Manor

By From page A1 | April 27, 2014

FAIRFIELD — Bill Ortega didn’t attend his high school prom. Nor did Ardestine Kelly.

They experienced the high school ritual Friday with help from the Armijo High School leadership class. They were crowned the prom king and prom queen midway through the event at Senior Manor.

About half of the 100 residents came out of their apartments to party with the teens.

“I love it,” said Laura Gunther, who has lived at the Union Avenue apartment complex for 15 years.

She borrowed a long organza pleated dress with a beaded bodice. It was hanging in neighbor JeNell Scott’s closet. It still had the price tag on it, Gunther said.

Pat McClain’s family took her out shopping for a new dress. She plans to keep it, in hopes of another prom next year.

McClain approached Marie Ortega, who plans the events at Senior Manor, with the idea of a senior prom.

“I just wanted to see us get together and have fun,” McClain said. “You don’t have to be young to have fun.”

Marie Ortega went to Armijo High School looking for tips on hosting a prom. Instead, she got the Armijo leadership class who was ready, willing and able to make McClain’s wish come true.

Victoria Rodgers and Brittany Chudzinski, who are juniors planning Armijo’s prom, put that experience to use at Senior Manor. They were happy with what they saw.

“I’m so excited the people dressed up,” Rodgers said. “I’m blown away by how successful this is.”

Planning began in February. The teens spent three hours just covering the walls with black drape to reflect the “Starry Night” theme.

Freshman Juan Garcia was waiting for the right song to hit the dance floor with one of the Senior Manor residents. When the prom idea was raised in leadership class, he said he knew he wanted to part of it.

“This is the first time I’ve seen something like this,” said Armijo junior Lauren Seabrooks. “Prom is a once-in-a-lifetime event, or twice. I like the idea of bringing it back 40, 50 years later.”

Kelly was surprised her neighbors elected her prom queen.

“This is my family,” she said of her neighbors.

Kelly couldn’t wait to call her family and let them know she had a new crown to wear.

Ortega said in jest, as prom king, he was going to change everything.

“It feels good that the people here love me,” he said.

The prom royalty had their own dance. Kelly sat in her motorized chair while Ortega held on to her hands, and the back of the chair, to twirl her around.

Jonathan Pryor, McClain’s brother, lent his vocal talents to the prom. He heads up the adult choir at the Kroc Center.

Crowning the king and queen was the highlight for him. He also offered praise for the Armijo students.

“They’re paying it forward and they seem to be very happy doing it,” he said.

He missed his high school prom.

“We were supposed to meet in San Francisco at the boat,” he said. “We missed the boat.”

Reach Amy Maginnis-Honey at 427-6957 or [email protected]. Follow her on Twitter at www.twitter.com/amaginnisdr.

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey

Amy Maginnis-Honey joined the staff of the Daily Republic in 1980. She’ll tell you she was only 3 at the time. Over the past three decades she’s done a variety of jobs in the newsroom. Today, she covers arts and entertainment and writes for the Living and news pages.

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