Dana Shulman Coffman: Bear River Grad Night tradition keeps teens safe | TheUnion.com

Dana Shulman Coffman: Bear River Grad Night tradition keeps teens safe

Almost a decade ago when my oldest son entered Bear River as a freshman, I was encouraged to pay it forward and get involved with Grad Night.

Grad Night? What was Grad Night?

I had no clue so went to a meeting and discovered the tradition was born from tragedy.

Over 30 years ago, drunk driving student deaths on graduation night inspired parents and community members to join together and create a fun, safe, sober celebration for graduating seniors. Since that time the tradition has grown and expanded and is celebrated throughout the U.S.

Graduating seniors get one last “super” party and their parents can rest easy knowing they are having a great time in a safe space.

Although the format and volunteer faces have changed over the years, the spirit of creating one last incredible memory for the graduating seniors has remained the same. I have met so many wonderful parents and community members since my first adventure in 2009, it’s hard to keep track. I would never have met many of these incredible people had it not been for this wonderful Bear River tradition.

When I began volunteering, I started in the kitchen the night of the event — prepping and serving food and then cleaning up afterwards. As the years rolled on, I branched out into whatever role was needed, eventually taking over the promotions chair on the Grad Night Committee. To this day, my favorite task is attending the event and walking around with a tray of Starbucks frappuccinos or snacks to serve the kids. They are always so excited, appreciative, and polite — and what a joy to see the kids I’ve watched grow up having such an amazing time!

My “baby” is a senior this year and I’m excited for the opportunity to watch him revel in his own Grad Night experience. Although this is my final year as the promotions chair, it’s not my last year being involved. I cannot overstate the importance of this tradition and how much I have come to value its role in our children’s lives and our community.

As a long time Grad Night volunteer, I will always look back fondly on my Grad Night experiences with appreciation and gratitude to the volunteers and community members who have made this a successful longtime tradition.

As this event is not school sponsored and is 100 percent volunteer driven, event coordinators are always looking for more volunteers and donations. To learn more or get involved, please contact brhsgradnight@gmail.com, you won’t regret it.

Dana Shulman Coffman is the promotions chair for the Bear River Grad Night Committee. She lives in Lake of the Pines.

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