A group of Yosemite High School parents, teachers, and students are determined to raise $10,000 from the community for the traditional Sober Grad Night, after the school announced it could no longer be the primary supporter of the event.
In a Feb. 19 letter to parents and students, Yosemite High School principal Randy Seals said due to a number of circumstances, including a smaller staff size, the school lacks available resources to continue offering a Sober Grad celebration.
Seals also noted that many Sober Grad events in the region are conducted by parent groups or area service clubs and organizations.
"Several individuals, families, and organizations have already donated financial resources to help fund this year's event," Seals said.
Seals said the school's decision in no way minimizes the importance of such an event, but should be considered an important all-call for area groups and community organizations to step in on behalf of the graduating seniors.
It didn't take long for a committee, including Sophia Ewert, Audra Hammerling, Heather Stieler, Jacque Neff, Anonetta Haggard, Tami Rose, and Cory McMechan, to get together to start planning the event for the expected 100+ students who will attend.
The school will graduate its 37th class of seniors and the Sober Grad Night has been a long tradition for Yosemite seniors. The past 10 years the event has been held at the now closed Sierra Lanes Bowling Center. This year's event will be held at Camp Oakhurst in the Mudge Ranch subdivision on Deadwood Mountain following the June 6 graduation ceremonies.
"Sober Grad is important because the event provides a safe, fun environment for graduates to celebrate together following graduation," Ewert said. "For many of the graduates, this will be the last chance to spend time together before going off to college or on to other pursuits."
The planning group, now 30 strong, will become the Yosemite Parent-Teacher Association, once its non-profit status, expected this week, is approved. Hammerling will serve as the school's first PTA president.
Kimberly Smith, Shaunessy Gaynor, Leslie Peterson, and Jackie Murphy are co-chairs of the event. Yosemite student Angelina Clark is helping organize the event as her senior project.
Smith's son, Trevor, is the last of her four children to graduate from Yosemite.
"This is the last event for the last of my children to have at Yosemite, and I felt I needed to step up and help out," Smith said. "It is our hope that many of the parents of seniors and juniors help out."
"It is important to make Sober Grad a wonderful event because this is the final hoorah for our graduating class," Angelina said. "It's the last time for us to be together as kids. I appreciate the community support. It helps us feel celebrated before we head off on the path to adulthood."
Angelina's mother, Jennifer, is a big supporter of the event.
"My son played football at Yosemite and when he graduated four years ago, he planned to go 'party' with his friends after graduation," Jennifer said. "When he came home the next morning, he had a big blender in his arms and I asked where he got it he said he stopped by the Sober Grad event and it looked like so much fun, he decided to stay there. That's when I became a believer of the event."
This year's event will include a wide variety of indoor and outdoor activities including a ropes course, climbing wall, paintball, swimming, dancing, campfire, and video and table games, along with some scheduled surprises.
Organizers are also inviting graduates from Glacier and Evergreen high schools to attend the event.
Community and merchant donations are being sought for food, Camp Oakhurst fees, entertainment, and prizes for the event.
McMechan is donations chair , and her goal is to have a minimum of 200 gifts for the seniors. In the past, a large variety of gifts have been provided from the community and cash donations are used to purchase gifts at discount prices from area merchants. Past prizes have included lap-top computers, I-pads, microwaves, mini-refrigerators, coffee pots, towels, pots and pans, and gift cards.
As they have done in the past, the grand prize at the event will be a previously owned Ford Taurus donated by Sierra Tel.
In addition to monetary and gift donations, volunteers are being sought to commit some time to chaperone the event that will run from 9 p.m. - 6 a.m.
Pam Rudd, mother of a graduating senior, is donating 100% of her silpada jewelry sales through April 5 for those ordering online at mysilpada.com/pamm.rudd.
Checks for Sober Grad can be sent to Yosemite High School (attention YHS PTA), 50200 School Road (427), Oakhurst, Calif. 93644. Tax deductible receipts will be available.
Pancake breakfast fundraiser May 10
A pancake breakfast, provided by the Oakhurst Kiwanis Club, will be held 7-11 a.m., Saturday, May 10, at the Oakhurst Community Center to raise funds for the event. Cost of the breakfast is $6 for adults, $3 for children under 12, and free for children under five.
According to McMechan, a donation drawing will be held at the breakfast with prizes including six hours on a patio boat at Bass Lake, provided by Miller's Landing Resort, a one night stay and breakfast for two at Tenaya Lodge in Fish Camp, and four rounds of golf with cart at Sierra Meadows Country Club.
Prize drawing tickets are $5 each or five for $20. Pancake breakfast and prize drawing tickets can be purchased in advance by contacting Gary Murphy, (559) 676-4446. Details: Audra Hammerling, (559) 760-7892, Cory McMechan, donations chairperson, (559)760-3330.