Grad Night: What’s big deal? |

Grad Night: What’s big deal?

As graduation approaches, parents, educators and law enforcement officials are faced with the challenge of keeping our young people safe. The alcohol-related statistics for the prom and graduation season are sobering at best.

Reports by the California Highway Patrol show that May and June are the most dangerous months for 15-17 year olds. The U.S. Department of Transportation’s nationwide tracking indicates that on the average, 5,202 teenagers are injured and 48 are killed in automobile accidents during a typical prom weekend.

In 1987, Livingston, N.J., came up with an ingenious way to combat the safety issue by hosting Project Graduation – an all-night party with events ranging from Jello wrestling to gift-wrapping. And so, to save lives, the tradition continues around the country, with parents raising anywhere from $15,000 to $50,000 to provide a safe venue for a memorable and fun-filled right of passage celebration.

The organizers of the safe and sober event for Nevada Union High School’s 2004 graduating class have spent six months and approximately $26,000 to create an atmosphere that will give graduates a an opportunity to win prizes, eat great food, and participate in numerous activities that aren’t usually available to them. As Janene Powell, parent and fund-raiser extraordinaire, explains, “If we lived in Southern California, students could celebrate at Disneyland, but we live up here, so we create it.”

So what’s there to do? Plenty! Activities at the event include: Bungee Run, Sumo Wrestling, Hose Hockey, One-on-One Basketball, a Rock Climbing Wall, and Lazer Tag – all provided by Sacramento-based, Prime Time Entertainment. There is also a stage hypnotist, belly dancers, a casino with blackjack, roulette and poker, swimming, movies (no, they aren’t all PG), photos by Chris Harada, and music by disc jockey Tyler Snellings. In keeping with the Egyptian theme, there’s even a fortune teller.

While students who attend the festivities are free to leave at any time (as long as a parent is notified first), most are having so much fun that they choose to stay until 5 a.m., when the final and biggest prizes are raffled. Last year’s big prizes included TVs with DVD players, digital cameras, surround-sound systems and cash. This year – with $7,000 earmarked for prizes – will be just as good, if not better!

Parents, if you want your senior to have a truly exceptional way to celebrate the culmination of 13 years of school, encourage them to attend Grad Night. There is no better party in Nevada County and no better way to keep your students safe. Tickets for the event are $45 and can be purchased by calling Heather Urban, Grad Night Chair.

To find out more about the 2004 Grad Night Celebration, visit the Web site at:; to volunteer as a chaperone, contact Carolyn Grace at 272-2265; to get involved in the Grad Night Club, the nonprofit organization that hosts the event, contact Heather Urban at 265-2284.


Jan Fishler of Grass Valley is the publicity chair for the Grad Night Club.

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