Sun Press: Cleveland Heights High School Prom-goers Share Special Evening with Judson Park Residents

By Susan Ketchum
Sun News
This story appeared in The Sun Press, May 16th and online at www.cleveland.com.

Some Cleveland Heights High School students shared one of the biggest nights of their high school career with residents of Judson Retirement Community.

Photo by Geoff Powers, Special to Sun News

About two dozen teens dressed in prom finery for the 5 p.m. “happy hour” at Judson Park, on Ambleside Road. There they chatted with seniors and promenaded through the dining room. The pre-prom event has been a tradition for more than a decade.

“It is a nice way to get involved with the community,” said Rebecca Friedberg of Cleveland Heights. “Most of them asked me what are my plans for next year.”

That topic was especially interesting for Natasha Madorsky, who plans to attend Princeton University next fall. She found a fellow Tiger in Glen Anderson, a 1949 Cleveland Heights grad who also attended Princeton. They chatted about dorms and changes at the New Jersey school.

Anderson said Princeton was “very different” for him after spending all his school years in Cleveland Heights.

“I was surprised that she knew I went to Princeton, but I wore my Princeton tie,” he said. “I am glad to see the new generation going there.”

He remembered attending prom with his future wife, who went to Hathaway Brown and Smith. After graduating from college he entered the Coast Guard as an officer and went on to work on “top secret stuff” for President Dwight Eisenhower.

Judson residents Jack and Marilyn Bialosky remembered their own proms as they chatted with the teens and danced to the Gary Ryan’s jazz piano. Jack, who said he went to Cleveland Heights High “a hundred years ago,” said he took his future wife, a Shaker Heights grad, to her prom at Shaker Country Club. The CHHS senior prom, in 1943, was not quite as ritzy.

“Our prom was in the girls gym. When we got there, we didn’t even recognize it. They had completely redecorated it,” he said.

Judson resident Bette Twaddell said she came to the event last year, but was not sure she was coming this year until the last minute.

“I am glad I did. It is fun, and exciting, and it makes you laugh,” she said.

Last year, one of the boys, an exchange student, came dressed in traditional shorts from his country, she said. This year Janine Walker, who spent her junior year as an exchange student to Thailand, wore a traditional Thai dress.

“I bought it last year, and saved it for prom,” she said.

Several current exchange students from other countries came to take part in the experience. Firdaus Mohamed, from Kenya, was impressed with the architecture of the former mansion, as well as the people.

“In my country we don’t have prom,” she said. “It’s pretty cool.”

Jyothika Rao of India agreed. “This has been one of the great experiences of my life,” she said.

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