Summit High School brings Maui to the mountains |

Summit High School brings Maui to the mountains

JULIE SUTORsummit daily news
Summit Daily/Brad Odekirk Laurel Edwards takes Spenser Hill for a spin across the floor.

DILLON – Outdoor temperatures dipped into the teens Sunday evening, but the interior of Dillon Community Church was downright tropical. Pineapples, palm trees, tiki torches and Elvis tunes set the mood for Summit County’s first-ever senior citizen prom.Students from Summit High School’s Character Development class organized the event as a way to give back to the community and to make connections between young people and seniors.

“As Pele, the goddess of volcanoes would say, it was a blast,” said 74-year-old Don Pascal of Silverthorne, one of nearly 60 seniors who attended. “It was exhilarating, exhausting and thoroughly enjoyable. The generation gap just disappeared.”The event included a catered, sit-down dinner followed by dancing tunes, to which intergenerational pairs spun and swayed across the floor. One senior woman even broke out a hula hoop and kept it spinning “for a minute straight,” Pascal said.”We all have paradigms of what each other is like,” said 17-year-old Elizabeth Shields. “This kind of event makes it easier for us to understand each other. (The seniors) all wanted to talk to us, and a bunch of them danced with us.”

The event exceeded expectations for SHS teacher Jim Smith, who mentored the students through the semester-long event-organizing process, which included fundraising, advertising, recruitment, goal-setting, good time management and logistics planning. “I was caught up in the hustle and bustle, doing dishes in the kitchen,” Smith said. “I heard the music start up, and I thought, ‘Oh, man, I really hope this comes together.’ Then I turned around and looked out to see 100 people – seniors and students – snaking through the entire place in a conga line. That was the moment I knew we had pulled this off.”

The event was a hands-on opportunity for students to implement the character development lessons of their class, built on the principles of “The 7 Habits of Highly Effective Teens,” by Sean Covey.”By going out of our way to do something really positive for the community, it took some kids out of their comfort zone. The rewards were so great – I’ve seen a lot of growth and change in these students,” Smith said.As for the seniors, they’re already looking forward to next year’s prom.

“Those young people went out of their way to make us feel great – they were very outgoing and genuine,” said 63-year-old Keystone resident Stan Rosko. “They did a super job. The only problem was that I wore my Sorels, and the dancing was on the carpet.”Julie Sutor can be reached at (970) 668-3998, ext. 203, or at

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