Grad Night organizers seek donations for annual graduation celebration event

WILLIAMS, Ariz. - As the school year draws to a close, the class of 2014 is getting ready to graduate. To keep students safe on graduation night, the Parents Who Care Committee is organizing its annual Senior Grad Night and is still accepting donations for the May 23 event.

Williams Police Chief and one of the event's organizers Herman Nixon spoke to the Williams Rotary Club about Grad Night on March 27.

The annual event includes food, entertainment and prize drawings. Organizers hope to acquire a used car for the grand prize. Other prizes could include laptops, iPads and cash prizes.

"We try to make sure every senior walks away with something," Nixon said.

It costs between $18,000 and $19,000 to put on Senior Grad Night. So far, organizers have raised almost $16,000.

One of the main sponsors of the event has traditionally been the Coconino County Attorney's Office, but it was unable to donate the usual $5,000 amount this year.

Because of this, the Parents Who Care Committee is even more dependent on donations from the community this year.

"I really want to push it because this is important for our kids," Nixon said.

Grad Night started in 2008 after five youth died in a tragic car accident involving alcohol and marijuana.

"Some parents got together back seven years ago and said, 'You know, we don't want this to happen ever again, especially on a big event night like graduation night,'" Nixon said.

About 45 seniors will graduate this year. At least 90 percent of the graduating classes usually attend Senior Grad Night each year.

This year, from 10 p.m. to midnight the families and friends of seniors are welcome to attend Grad Night. From midnight until 5 a.m. the event is restricted to graduating seniors and one guest only.

Williams Police Department officers will give a breath test to everyone who enters the event to ensure it remains drug and alcohol free.

Nixon said the event wouldn't discourage underage drinking altogether, but it would prevent it from happening on a major celebration night for students.

"This is a night for these seniors that we do not want them to forget, and we sure don't want them to get out there getting in trouble or getting killed because of doing something stupid," he said.

The Parents Who Care and senior class are selling Gold Canyon Candles to fundraise for Grad Night through April 16. Those interested in buying a candle can ask any senior or call Williams High School at (928) 635-4474.

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