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Responsible Rockin' on Grad Night

Graduating from high school is a milestone event in a young person's life, and usually a very, very happy one. The only problem is that it can get a little too happy, with many kids celebrating this transition to adulthood (term used loosely) with drinking and drugs. Throw in driver's licenses and cars and the result is that one of the greatest days in a teen's life is also one of the most dangerous. Parents need to be aware of this to provide their ex-seniors with safe alternatives.

Lock-Ins

School lock-ins have become a popular way for parents and teachers to ensure a safe graduation. From commencement night until early the next morning, students are supervised -- usually at their schools -- while enjoying a variety of fun activities, like athletic tournaments, hypnotists, Velcro wall jumping, karaoke, sumo wrestling (in over-sized costumes), silent auctions and casino games. Entertainers such as disc jockeys, comedians and local celebrities can also help make the night special.
Since the price for an evening of controlled festivities can quickly add up, parents and teachers will probably want to spread costs out over a per-student basis, and ask area stores to donate food, services, and prizes. School chapters of Students Against Destructive Decisions (S.A.D.D.) (formerly Students Against Drunk Driving) may be able to help fund a lock-in with the aid of restaurant chain Boston Market. If your local high school doesn't have a S.A.D.D. chapter, the national association can still help plan a safe in-school party.

Community Help

Giving back to the community is certainly a high-minded way for exiting seniors to celebrate the end of high school, and can promote a sense of togetherness for the soon-to-be-disbanded class. Staging an all-night dance-a-thon or comparable challenge to raise funds for a local charity is a great way to enter "the real world."

Block Parties

Organizing a parent-supervised block party is another way to address the issue of a safe graduation night. They can be themed (with costume required), or carnival-style, complete with a dunk tank, kissing booth, pie-eating contest, or an all-gender beauty pageant. Get teachers to participate and the role-reversal will be too much for grads to resist. Hosting a raffle can also be fun. Get a local radio station to broadcast from the site and you've got yourself a party!

Smaller Parties

If an all-night affair for the whole class is unfeasable, talk to your fellow parents about hosting a smaller affair. A large overnight gathering at one house may be the best bet (with chaperones having their own to-do as well). Set up old photos and mementos to personalize the experience, then add karaoke or a slip-and-slide and your kids can recapture a bit of their youth for a moment as they see their future unfolding before their eyes.

The key to keeping graduates safe is entertainment, other graduates and adult supervision. There is never a replacement for good judgment and parental guidance, but with all of those things working together, grads and parents can enjoy this milestone together knowing everyone will arrive safely home in the morning.

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