A couple of generations ago, dry grad parties were unheard of. Today they are an essential part of graduation celebrations.
In Summerland, the dry grad party this year was attended by the majority of the graduating class, with only a handful of graduates choosing not to attend.
“There was a time in many communities across the country when there weren’t any dry grad activities and students went out and partied and there were accidents and people died,” said Julie Planiden, who chairs the Dry Grad Committee. “That’s why I think dry grad happens, so that we can prevent that and hopefully provide them with a safe celebration. They need to know that they can have a great time without drinking.”
“We want them to have a memorable evening with their friends,” added Collette Shanner, who plans the entertainment for the party.
The Dry Grad Committee is made up of parents as well as students. They have met once a month throughout the school year.
Much of their time and energy has gone into the substantial number of fundraising events they have held. Some of these included bottle drives, manure sales, the delivery of InfoTel directories, coffee sales, teas, bake sales and face painting.
“The grads stepped up and have given their time as well as the parents,” Planiden said.
Committee member Misty McDonald made requests for donations from local businesses and purchased prize items with the cash donations.
Serving as treasurer, Hayley Fisher looked after all of the money raised, cashing and depositing cheques.
These efforts combined with those of other committee members, resulted in the dry grad party that was held at the high school last Friday night. The party lasted until the wee hours of Saturday morning.
Once the doors were opened students were let in, with parents acting as security, making sure the event would remain alcohol free.
If students chose to leave the party, they were not allowed back in.
Entertainment and activities for the evening included a hypnotist, laser tag and other games handled by a party company out of Vancouver.
All of the points that customers had donated at their local grocery store, went towards the cost of having fruit, vegetable and cheese platters for students to snack on. Pizza was also donated and delivered to the party and non-alcoholic beverages were provided.
Prizes were given out at the end of the night, so that everyone went home with something.
“The event was a huge success and the kids had a great time,” said Planiden.
“This couldn’t have happened without all of the support of the businesses in Summerland. How very, very generous they have been in terms of donations, prizes, and cash and with letting us use their venues. They have just been so supportive.”
As for all the hard work that goes into organizing fundraisers and planning the party, Jacquie Foley said, “It’s been fun watching them grow up. They’ve evolved. I see this as that last gift we can give our kids before we send them out the door.”
Planiden said she felt like she got to know everyone a little better through it all.
“It’s an amazing group of parents and an amazing group of kids,” she said.
She also believes that the quote “It takes a village to raise a child” is true.
“Summerland is that village and better than many many other places. It’s a phenomenal environment for kids to grow up in,” she said.
It is her hope, that in communicating about the work done by this year’s Dry Grad Committee, that it will help future grad classes to have and enjoy similar celebrations.
If you know a positive story about someone in our community, contact Carla McLeod at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the Summerland Review newsroom at 250-494-5406.