By LISA CAPOBIANCO
Vito Barbagallo strutted down the red carpet at Plainville High School with his date, ready to dance the night away during the Interact Club’s Second Annual “Senior” Prom.
“I’ve never been to a prom,” said Barbagallo, adding his daughter suggested he attend the event.
“It’s very entertaining,” added his wife Gisella, who came as his prom date.
Long-time resident of Plainville Peggy Mottola also attended the prom— for her the second time— dressed in sparkles this year. Posing with several female students in the photo booth, Mottola said she looked forward to returning as a guest this year.
“I came here to have fun and dance my heart out,” she said.
Decked out with a red carpet and a Hollywood Walk of Fame, the cafeteria of Plainville High School featured a variety of entertainment for local senior citizens, including a photo booth with props, music and dancing. The event, which had a “Hollywood” theme, also featured awards for the “Best Dressed,” “Best Dancer,” and “Best Photo” for male and female senior guests.
The high school’s Interact Club planned and organized the prom, contacting restaurants for food donations, decorating, voting on a theme and reaching out to the community about the event. Over a dozen restaurants provided food, including J. Timothy’s Taverne, Capri Ristorante, Pagliacci’s Restaurant and Vero Pizza. Other members of the school community contributed to the event, including students the Italian Honor Society who provided dessert, and social studies teacher Thomas Riccardo, who is in charge of the theater technology club, who provided the photo booth. Dan Hurley served as DJ.
“It was a whole club effort,” said Jake San Juan, the treasurer of the Interact Club. “I hope this makes [students] realize it can be fun to help other people.”
“I love seeing all the smiles on their faces,” said junior Shyanne Bradley, who put together a variety of raffle baskets for the event.
Interact’s Vice President Leslie Mroczek said last year the cafeteria was decked out with fake records on the walls, bringing the “Swingin’ 50s” to back to life. In the fall, the Interact Club also hosted a “Blackjack Ball.” She said the prom serves as a great way to give seniors the opportunities or experiences they did not pursue in the past.
“The whole purpose is for us to give back to them,” said Mroczek, who also helped decorate the senior citizen prom last year.
Nick Bendas-Giano, the president of the Interact Club recalled one married couple attended the prom last year for the first time. Giano said the couple initially wanted to attend their high school prom together, but missed their chance.
“This was their first prom ever,” said Giano, adding that he hopes to make each senior prom a little more extravagant every year. “This entire dance is about giving back to senior citizens.”
Principal Steven LePage, who serves as one of the club’s advisers, said through their involvement with the prom, he hopes that students learn “a better appreciation” for seniors in town and to a connect with them. He also hopes seniors see the students’ passion for giving back to the community.
“I think it’s a win-win—it’s good for the seniors and it’s great for the kids,” said LePage, adding the club received a lot of thank-you letters from seniors after last year’s prom.
Made up of 25 to 30 members with five officers, the Interact Club has also give back to the community in other ways. Principal Steven LePage said the club recently held a pancake breakfast to benefit a Seria relief fund. They have also supported Pediatric Cancer Research, Make-a-Wish Foundation and also purchased a shelter box (through the Rotary Club) to provide survival necessities for catastrophe-stricken areas.
“We’re a very active club,” said LePage, adding the club offers students the opportunity to gain leadership skills as well as organizing and coordination skills. “It has taken off—it’s one of our best attended clubs.”