Arts & Entertainment

West Essex High School Intergenerational Prom Attracts More Than 150 Students and Seniors

Senior Citizens Enjoy the Music and Food at the Prom Credits: Gail Bottone
Senior citizens and high school students line dance at the 2017 Intergenerational Prom Credits: Gail Bottone
Nicholas Stampone enjoys being with grandparents Rose and Dominick Ranieri Credits: Gail Bottone
Karen Goduti Caggiano and Egor Pankiw enjoy West Essex High School Intergenerational Prom Credits: Gail Bottone
Nadia Belverio, WEHS junior, and Ernie DeBlasis, a Fairfield resident, are name Prom King and Queen
Nadia Belverio, WEHS junior, and Ernie DeBlasis, a Fairfield resident, are name Prom King and Queen

NORTH CALDWELL, NJ — Ernie DeBlasis, a Fairfield senior citizen, and Nadia Belverio, a junior at West Essex High School (WEHS), were named prom king and queen at the fourth-annual WEHS Intergenerational Prom that was held at the high school on Thursday.

The theme for this year’s prom was “A Knight in Paradise.” All guests received Hawaiian leis to wear, and a floral centerpiece decorated each table. Each senior citizen also took home photos that were taken in the photo booth provided.

The Intergenerational Prom is a school-initiated outreach event focusing on integrating the senior community with the school community. With approximately 150 people in attendance, the event accomplished this goal.

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Some highlights of the night included dinner, entertainment by the school’s jazz band and other high school performers, a photo booth, dancing with music by DJ Tim Hughes, who is a WEHS alumnus, the crowning of king and queen, and door prizes.

Karen Goduti Caggiano, a member of the first graduating class of West Essex High School in 1962, was at the prom. She remembers her high school days well.

“The school was small,” she said. “There was no middle school here at that time. I was in the National Honor Society and was awarded Best Business Student of the Year.”

Her children, Michael and David Caggiano, also graduated from WEHS, along with her grandson, Michael George Caggiano. Her granddaughter, Nicole, will be graduating this year.  

“This prom is wonderful,” said Karen.

Residents of Marian Manor in Caldwell and Sunrise Senior Living in Fairfield were among those present at the event. Many members of the Fairfield Golden Agers Club also were there.

Veronica Greczek, Julia Miller and Maddy Muehlbauer, seniors at WEHS and members of the Key Club and National Honor Society, were at the prom greeting guests and encouraging everyone to have a good time. Many other WEHS students also enjoyed the festivities as well as being with their grandparents.

“Everyone has a view on growing old,” said Maria Voltmer of West Orange. “I say it is a little like mountain climbing. The higher you go, the better the view.”

Fairfield resident Gerry Helou was having a good time with her friends enjoying the food and music.

“There are a lot of Fairfield people here,” she said. “Good food, free parking, what else could you want?”

Former Fairfield resident Roe D’Esposito, who now lives in Caldwell, said she was happy to be at the event, adding that she was able to meet an old friend whom she hadn’t seen in years. Two of her three children, Lisa and John D’Esposito, graduated from WEHS.

The occasion was made possible through donations from both community and school organizations, as well as local merchants. Pomptonian Food Service was one of the sponsors, with food from Texas Smoke BBQ in Jefferson. Photos were taken by New York’s Legacy Studios.

The prom committee was led by WEHS Principal Caesar Diliberto and Administrative Assistant Andrea Trombino. Marjorie Jameson, teacher of fine and performing arts, was among the faculty members involved in the organization of the event.

The event was created as part of West Essex High School’s effort to provide a venue for students to give back to previous generations who have provided lifelong support to the school.

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