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Redwood Bark

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New grad night format at Redwood aims to address safety challenges

On June 13, following the class of 2024’s graduation ceremony, the senior class will have one final chance to spend time all together through a new version of the traditional Safe and Sober Grad Night event. Following incidents involving substances, the Redwood Parent Teacher Student Association (PTSA) decided to shorten Grad Night from an all-night celebration to a three-hour event.

Grad Night logo (Photo courtesy of Kim Sichel)

Safe and Sober Grad Night has been an ongoing tradition nationwide, created to discourage students from using any illegal substances or driving under the influence after graduation. However, this goal has proven difficult, as in past years, students have snuck in substances or left the event early. Redwood Principal Dr. Barnaby Payne has only been a part of Grad Night for two years but has still been able to notice the difficulties surrounding the event. 

“Grad nights are a challenge because they are not necessarily directly supervised and sponsored by the school. You have students over 18 and are technically no longer Redwood students,” Payne said. “The challenge has been, very frankly, keeping the event both safe and sober. In the last few years, students have broken the rules about sneaking alcohol into the event and students have left the event early.”

This year, to ensure students’ safety and security, last year’s Redwood PTSA Grad Night Waiver and Release form has returned and has already been signed by many seniors. Along with this, the venue has been kept entirely secret. Buses will bring students from Redwood to the secret location and back. In past years, students who knew the location could go in beforehand and hide items like alcohol within the venue. Due to this, Redwood has been asked not to return to certain venues and has even been asked to leave early. 

Although students have had to sign contracts in prior years stating they will not leave the event early, the contracts have often been broken in past years. Redwood PTSA President Kim Sichel hopes the shortened Grad Night event will produce different results. 

“I think it’s going to be great. Some of the issues with kids wanting to leave in the past is, honestly, they’re just so tired. There are so many senior events; there are family events, there are things like that, so [for seniors] to be able to go home after the event and get a little sleep before they get up super early to go to the sunrise will be great,” Sichel said. 

While many seniors have been upset about the change, some also see its positive aspects. Senior Ella Kaminski agreed with Sichels’s sentiments about the seniors’ energy levels halfway through the event.

“’I’ve heard from past seniors that they were kind of tired by like the 11 p.m to  midnight point and were kind of ready to go home. So, the change might be a good thing, but we just don’t realize it now. I think many other seniors and I feel like we’re getting like the short end of the straw,” Kaminski said. 

Even though this year’s Grad Night is different from last year’s in length, it doesn’t necessarily mean the same for the class of 2025. 

“This event can always be changing,” Sichel said. “If the kids don’t love what we did this year, it can change next year.”

The senior class is loved by many and Payne is just one of their admirers. 

“I don’t take the class of 2024 for granted. I have seen many wonderful, hardworking, thoughtful, community-centered young people. I’m amazed by how wonderful our students are,” Payne said. “I have seen lots of leadership, athletes and artists. It’s just a very sophisticated, fun group of young people. I’m so excited for our future together and their future out in the world.”

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About the Contributor
Emily Garcia
Emily Garcia, News Editor
Emily Garcia is a junior at Redwood High School and is a news editor for the Redwood Bark. She enjoys listening to music and spending time with friends and family.