by Cheryl Senn
Attendance at the 2013 Sanger High Sober Grad event was more than double the number of students who participated in 2012, according to Sanger High Sober Grad organizer and Sanger High teacher, Sara Smith. This year 170 students participated, but in 2012, only 82 students participated. The location had a lot to do with the increase in attendance. Sanger High graduate Cynthia Gonzalez said the reason she participated was because “It’s closer.” “It’s convenient,” added fellow graduate, Kenna Sandberg. Most graduates said they went out to dinner with family after the graduation ceremony, and then attended the all-night Sober Grad Party. This is the second year Smith has been in charge of the event and the first year the Sanger High campus was the venue for the Sober Grad event.
From the hours of 11 p.m. on Friday June 7 to 5 a.m. on Saturday June 8, students were able to enjoy karaoke, yearbook signing, a mobile photo booth with props and having their caricature drawn. In addition to those activities graduates were able to watch a movie, play video games or board games and use “inflatables” like jousting, baseball, etc., to challenge their classmates. Carmen, from The Juice Crew morning show, on B95, was the event’s DJ and had festive music playing during the whole event. Carmen gave away t-shirts and helped with announcing prize drawings and activities in addition to music.
The Sanger High pool was open to Sober Grads as well. The availability of the pool was extremely important since temperatures were in the 90’s, during the all-night event. Snacks and drinks were provided at the snack bar at no charge to the students. The menu included tacos, nachos, pizza, chili, cookies, water, soft drinks, candy and chips. The graduates paid $10 for their ticket to the Sober Grad event and once they checked in, there were no more fees. All activities and snacks were included for the $10 ticket price.
Sanger Police Officer Tom Reinhart was very happy with the turnout to the event. Reinhart let some graduates give him a short haircut because of the increase in attendance. If the total in attendance had reached 200, Reinhart would have let the students shave his head completely!
“Hopefully we will have more next year,” he said. He added that it was important to get the kids to an event with their friends where there was “No alcohol or anything else that might get them in trouble.” According to Sober Grad flyers, graduates who celebrate outside of a safe and sober event, like this one at Sanger High, are 60% more likely to be involved in a fatal accident. The danger zone for high school graduates is from 12 midnight to 4 a.m.
Prizes like laptops, iPod shuffles, guitars and bicycles, were given away every hour. “I won a TV,” said Marissa Sanchez, after winning a 32″ television set. “I’m happy I came to Sober Grad,” said Juliana Landin, who won a laptop and who will be attending Fresno City College in the fall. “I’m excited because I get to use it for college.”
More than 80 gift cards which included Jamb Juice, Starbucks, Sal’s Mexican Restaurant and McDonalds, were given away as well. HOPE Sanger donated four bicycles to be used as prizes.
Sara Smith said she was very happy with the turnout this year and especially pleased with the community support she received, advising that more than 30 volunteers helped this year as compared to two in 2012. “This event should be about the community providing a safe place for graduating seniors to celebrate responsibly.”
For the graduates, it was all about the fun. “It’s really a fun way to interact with people in a healthy way,” said Milena Valle, as she was looking through the props in preparation for entering the photo booth.
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