GradNight.org evolved from the GRADS organization, which began as the Grad Night Foundation in Orange County in September, 1986 with two enthusiastic moms, under the leadership of Lori Warmington. They decided that their community could share the graduation celebration with other schools in Orange County, California, and beyond. As this phenomenon grew, so did the demand for the fun activities and thematic ideas.
As organizers struggled to find more activities, they realized the entertainment potential of an "all- night" event. The activities tended towards spectator sports, wherein graduating seniors would sit passively and marvel at some magic show, watch a friend get embarrassed, and then move on to the dance thing. Traditionally, celebration activities did not involve much participation. The current trend is Interactive Entertainment. Gradually, planning committees actively sought out ideas and events that would involve the graduating seniors and leave them with something truly memorable. Over many years, the Grad Night Manual was drafted, written, edited and finally handed out to parents and organizers to assist in their event development.
"The Surgeon General has reported that life expectancy has improved over the last 75 years for every age group, except for the one that includes high school seniors. Their death rate is higher than it was 20 years ago due to alcohol-induced crashes."
Over thirty years ago, a graduating senior from Valencia High School died in a drinking and driving related accident. Unfortunately, it's not a unique story. Drinking and driving related traffic deaths are the number one cause of death amongst teenagers. As a result of this tragedy, Valencia adopted stricter drinking/drug free guidelines and began seeking safer ways for seniors to celebrate their high school graduation. The answer, of course, was Sober Grad Night. Currently, thousands of high schools celebrate graduation with this life-saving program.
The GradNight.org tradition is one born out of a philosophy based on integrity, ethics, and healthy values. Grad Night has become a way for the entire community to focus on a project conceived to save the lives of our graduating seniors. The Grads themselves have expressed how great the experience truly is for them. Even the most taciturn of graduating seniors have said how much fun they had, and how their last memory of high school was the unbelievable party. Waves of positive feedback poured over the parent committees and the school administrators and the various people that make Grad Night a success.
For years now, Grad Night.org has been a means for every parent, organizer and volunteer to put energy into their student community. Help get the word out early, "You don't have to drink or do drugs to have a great time!"