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June 17, 2009 > Destination unknown

Destination unknown

Washington High hosts grad nite celebration at secret location

By Alyson Whitaker
Photos By Angie McCoy

Where they are headed is anyone's guess . . . the only clue given is that there will be "unlimited Dippin' Dots".

Fremont's Washington High School graduating seniors are eagerly anticipating their all-night celebration, set to start shortly after their graduation ceremony concludes on June 19. Students will gather in the Prince of Peace church parking lot, donning matching t-shirts serving as their entrance tickets for the evening. These t-shirts were designed by graduating senior Janiece Jarman. All electronic devices will be surrendered and graduates will board a bus, taking them to the final party destination, known only to a few key members of the planning committee.

The element of secrecy provides intrigue to the Washington High School graduates . . . and guesses are flying as to where this year's celebration will take place. Past locations have included ClubSport Fremont, and the U.S.S. Hornet.

Washington High is just one of several local high schools sponsoring a Grad Nite celebration for students.

The philosophy behind Grad Nite festivities is to provide a safe, sober, and spectacular "once in a lifetime" celebration, marking the milestone of high school graduation. More than just a party, Grad Nite is a commitment by parents, school, and community to host a night to remember. The all-night parties are alcohol and drug-free, building a spirit of togetherness among friends and classmates for one last time. Volunteers all work together to keep graduates safe and entertained on what might otherwise be a potentially dangerous night.

Putting on an event of this caliber is no small feat. Washington High's parent volunteer committee began meeting and planning the 2009 Grad Nite months ago. The team of parent volunteers has worked tirelessly, ensuring that no detail is overlooked. Every aspect of the night, no matter how small, has been meticulously planned.

Student ticket prices don't come close to covering the cost of the all-night event, estimated to be between $40,000 and $50,000. Fundraising activities have been held all year, including concession sales at Oakland Raider games.

Ticket prices usually increase throughout the year - an incentive for students to purchase tickets early. With economic conditions as they are, the committee opted to keep ticket prices at their early-purchase price until April 30th. A payment plan was offered, and scholarships have been made available to ensure the event is open to all students, regardless of their financial situation.

Donations from local companies and organizations have been essential to offset costs and bring about a successful Grad Nite. Washington Hospital donated plastic patient bags for students to store their belongings in on the night of the event. Target has offered additional store credit with an in-store purchase. Local restaurants have donated gift cards. Parents purchased boxer shorts to be given as prizes for Boxer Bingo-a popular Grad Nite game.

The all-night entertainment provides something for everyone - karaoke, DJ and dancing, games, and more. For Trevor Walsh, a 2008 Washington High graduate, the "Hypnotist" show was what stood out most in his memories of Grad Nite. "Watching someone get up there and act like Britney Spears . . . it was pretty funny."

Rose Evernden, parent of a graduating Washington High senior and member of the planning committee, called this year's committee a "Dream Team", working seamlessly and tirelessly together to bring this event to life. For Evernden, this is her last opportunity to volunteer as a parent - her youngest child is graduating this year. After getting the go-ahead from her son to volunteer, she jumped on board and hasn't regretted it for a moment.

The last few months of school can bring on a severe case of "Senioritis" for many high school seniors, but as graduation approaches, even the least sentimental begin to feel it - a chapter of their life is ending, and a new one beginning. Whether attending college out of town or locally, or entering the work force, life as they know it will never be the same. Grad Nite provides students one last opportunity to safely celebrate together as a graduating class before heading off to face the adventures, challenges, and responsibilities of adulthood.

So as the graduates board that bus on June 19th, and eat that unending supply of Dippin' Dots in a yet-to-be-disclosed destination, they're creating a final memory of their high school years that is sure to last a lifetime.

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