97-Year-Old Woman Goes to Prom for the First Time

Category: Human Interest


Unlocking Word Meanings

Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article.

  1. oblige / əˈblaɪdʒ / (v) – to do something for someone who asked for a favor

    She obliged to the man’s invitation to go out on a date.

  2. bucket list / ˈbʌk ɪt lɪst / (n) – a number of things someone wants to achieve in a lifetime

    Skydiving is the first thing on my bucket list.

  3. cross off (something) / krɔs ɔf / (phrasal) – to remove something from a list

    I wonder how many years it would take for me to cross off all the countries on my travel bucket list.

  4. crown / kraʊn / (v) – to place a crown on someone's head and give him/her an important title

    The 18-year-old was crowned the youngest beauty queen in history.

  5. honorary / ˈɒn əˌrɛr i / (adj) – given without any requirements or conditions, simply for honor

    My mother was named an honorary member of the committee for her generous donations over the years.


Read the text below.

A 97-year-old woman went to her first prom at her great grandson’s high school.

Grandmother, Helen Danis [DEY-nis], achieved her dream of attending prom for the first time. The school dance was held at Pilgrim High School in Rhode Island, United States, where her great grandson was a student. Danis happily obliged to attend after her granddaughter, Julie Huddon, gave her a crown and an invitation to the dance.

According to Danis, she could not afford to attend prom as a teenager due to her family’s situation at that time. Her family struggled financially during the Great Depression—the global economic crash from 1929 to 1939. Being unable to attend the dance affected the young Danis badly that she decided to drop out of school.

Eighty years later, Danis was able to experience and enjoy the school dance with the help of Huddon. Attending prom was part of a bucket list that Huddon helped Danis put together. Thanks to Huddon talking to the principal of Pilgrim High School, Danis was able to attend the event.

Pilgrim High School’s principal, Gerald Habershaw, was only too happy to help Danis cross off prom from her bucket list. He gave Danis permission to attend the dance. At the end of the program, he even crowned Danis honorary prom queen to which the students cheered and clapped.

Danis was delighted with her prom experience and danced energetically throughout the night. The 97-year-old says that the experience was really special and that she does not wish to add any more activities on her bucket list for now.

Viewpoint Discussion

Enjoy a discussion with your tutor.

Discussion A

• Given the same situation, would you attend prom at Danis's age? Why or why not?
• If you were the school principal, would you have allowed Danis to attend the prom? Why or why not?

Discussion B

• Do you think it is important to have a bucket list? Why or why not?
• If you were to make a bucket list, what activities would be in it? Discuss.