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Bow ties, sequins, tea and cake: these seniors go back to high school for seniors’ prom

Nearly 66 years after Margaret Oman’s senior prom, she got a second chance to wear her finest at her alma mater.

Displaying her old school ID and some black-and-white photographs of her 1957 graduation dress on the tablecloths of Quebec High School, Oman got to reminisce, thanks to Grade 11 students who planned an additional prom at their Quebec City school, one designed to have seniors participate.

“I think it’s so nice of them to do this for us. We’ve been chatting away with each one of them and what they want to do when they grow up,” said Oman.

“I think they have a great future ahead of them.”

Old pictures and documents
Margaret Oman displayed some of her high school photos as she interacted with high school students at the prom (Leeça St. Aubin/Quebec High School)

Oman said she hadn’t been back to her high school in some time, since her children graduated, decades after she herself had attended — and received a prize for punctuality.

Elizabeth Robertson was another senior invited to the event. A longtime resident of Quebec City, she says she never had a prom.

“I was very pleased. I’ve never come to one of those,” said Robertson. “The girls and the dresses, they look so nice, everything is beautiful.”

‘I’m happy to be able to connect with them’ says student

Three students came up with the idea as part of an end of year project. One of the students, Elsemieke Koper, an exchange student from the Netherlands, says they were inspired through researching.

“We were just Googling fun ideas, and then it was Chloe that came up with [it]: ‘Oh, we should do a prom for senior citizens! Then we have two proms.’ And we were like, ‘Oh, such a good idea,'” said Koper.

She says they took the project very seriously and offered up homemade goods, generational trivia and icebreaker games. Koper says they hoped to offer seniors a “good talk” and involved around two dozen students.

An older woman smiles at the camera, seated next to two high school students
Anne Fillion with students Clara Dumoulin and Sarah Blanchette. (Leeça St. Aubin/Quebec High School)

“It’s easy to sell, of course. Dancing with old people, drinking a cup of tea. It’s really fun,” said Koper.

“I just like old people, they’re just the most adorable, respectful people in the world and they make me smile.… It reminds me of my grandparents, too. It’s just really nice.”

Chloe Robitaille, who came up with the idea, says she is happy the event worked out.

“We weren’t sure if this was going to be too ambitious or not. So we went down, we asked some teachers about organizing, ‘Hey, do you think it’s possible?’ And we made it happen,” said Robitaille.

A banner says "forever young, 1942 to 2022"
Seniors participated in games and were served tea and homemade goods. Some of them graduated as far back as the 1940s. (Leeça St. Aubin/Quebec High School)

She said it feels good to connect with people from different generations.

“For example, I didn’t really get to grow up with grandparents, so to be able to talk with these people and be able to share stories, I’m happy to be able to connect with them.”

Meb Reisner, a resident of McGreevy Manor, attended the event and enjoyed sharing stories from her high school days.

“I thought it was a wonderful outreach for intergenerational contact,” said Reisner.

LISTEN | QHS students invited former alumni and seniors to special event:

Breakaway11:42Quebec High School’s seniors’ prom

QHS students invited former alumni and people from the community to listen to some music, play some games, and above all, get to know each other.

A woman holds up a black and white class photo
Meb Reisner took the occassion to dress up for her second seniors prom. She wore a copper dress in 1957 when she attended her high school prom. (Julia Page/CBC)

Holding up a class photo, she said in 1957 she wore a copper dress in what was her high school’s first-ever prom.

“For Grade 9, we had to be bused to another school because they didn’t have a high school in the town where we grew up. So I was in the very first graduating class of the new high school that was built in my town, this was in Pointe-Claire [at] John Rennie High School,” said Reisner.

Émilie Le Barbenchon, the third student organizer of the event, says the prom was a success and a first of its kind.

“Our school had never heard of doing this until we brought it up. And just getting to know people who’ve been here or are just part of our community, ’cause I don’t think we reach out enough to others in the English community,” said Le Barbenchon.

“We hope that later on they’ll remember this.”

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