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HHS & Interact Host “The 2019 Seniors Prom: A Night at the USO”

On a sunlit spring evening in May, the cafeteria at Highland High School (HHS) took on the look and feel of a World War II era military-service support group event, as HHS and the school’s Interact Club hosted nearly 50 senior citizens for the “2019 Seniors Prom: A Night at the USO.” The USO is a noteworthy military support organization that has been serving and assisting military service members and their families for over 75 years.

This nostalgic event was dedicated to the memory of prominent Highland senior citizen and WWII veteran Ben Bragg, who passed away last November at the age of 94.

Retired HHS teacher Pattie Steffens, who has coordinated this event for each of the last 14 years, was once again assisted by English teacher Annmarie Phillips Meisel, who advises the school’s Interact Club. Members of Interact decorated the room in a patriotic theme, with each table featuring a photograph of Mr. Bragg at a past school or local event. The Interact students also served dinner. They had some help this year from Ms. Steffens’ 11-year-old granddaughter Ava Quintana, who will soon enter Highland Middle School.

“My grandchildren have grown with me through this experience. Ava has attended the last nine years and sees it as a family gathering,” shares Ms. Steffens. “She has always loved dancing and mingling with the students and senior citizens. She now helps with serving and cleaning. What a great experience to celebrate with people in the community bridging four generations.”

Food Services director Maria McCarthy and her cafeteria staff had prepared a full-course American picnic-style dinner for their guests. DJ Dominick Trocino of DJ Dominic Entertainment provided an assortment of modern music as well as period melodic memories from the era of the “greatest generation,” such as the Andrews Sisters’, “The Boogie-Woogie Bugle Boy of Company B.”

The evening was punctuated by words of praise for Mr. Bragg from both young and old friends and acquaintances, including HHS graduating senior Joseph Lyons and Mr. Bragg’s lifelong friend and former Highland Athletic Director Charlie Busick.

In his remarks, Superintendent Thomas Bongiovi welcomed the seniors to the commemorative event and spoke briefly about Mr. Bragg, describing his military service as well as what he meant to both the Highland Central School District and the Highland community at large. Nearly all attendees knew of Mr. Bragg and his long history of service to his country and his community.