SecurityThe safety and security of all attendees at the Grad Night, volunteers as well as attendees, is of paramount importance.
The primary objectives of the Security Committee are:
- Maintain control over the Grad Night area. Prevent disruptive behavior from interfering with the event.
- Keep unauthorized people (gate crashers) out and keep attendees in.
- Provide communications and liaison with the city police, ambulance, and fire departments.
Grad Night security involves participation and cooperation from all attendees, volunteers, private security personnel, and local law, fire and ambulance services.
- Obtain a detailed layout of the Grad Night area including locations for the different entertainment activities. Identify potential problem areas such as bathrooms, check-in rooms, crash room, exit area, entrance area, all dark or poorly lit areas, walkways, fenced areas, and parking lots.
- Discuss Grad Night Security with the Grad Night Executive Committee to ensure nothing has been left out and that everyone knows what security measures will be enforced, when, how, and by whom.
- Plan locations for Lost and Found, First Aid, Check-in rooms, Security Office, and phone (for calling emergency services).
- Coordinate the Check-in and ID system for the Grad Night volunteers and vendors.
- Request a copy of the most current list of the graduate and parent/guardian names and phone numbers in case they must be contacted (such as an illness or if the graduate wants to leave early). Coordinate this list with the Ticket Sales Chairperson.
- Coordinate the Grad Night check-in procedures including proper I D and checking personal property (such as backpacks, jackets and purses). Coordinate this with the Ticket Sales Chairperson.
- Conduct a security search of the Grad Night area (and surrounding areas) immediately prior to the Grad Night Party. Be extra thorough in the restrooms including under the toilet tanks and paper towel holders.
Security for the Outside Areas
This would include places such as parking lots, gates, fences and check-in areas.
- Notify your local police as well as the neighborhoods surrounding Grad Night of the time and date of Grad Night.
- Determine the need for temporary security fencing to secure the Grad Night area.
- Plan security for the parking areas to protect the vehicles, graduates, and volunteers.
- Identify volunteer needs and coordinate with the Volunteer Coordinator.
- Decide if you will need to hire private security personnel.
- Decide how and when the Grad Night security volunteers will be trained.
- Ensure that each area of Grad Night party has emergency lights (flashlights with fresh batteries and illuminated exits.).
- Ensure the event area security lights are operable and turned on when required.
Getting Help From Law Enforcement Officials
Letting your local law enforcement agencies know your plans can reduce security problems. Local law enforcement personnel can be your most helpful partners. They know the area better than you and are typically happy to assist in planning the event.
- Invite them to your first Security meeting. This will introduce the Grad Night concept to the police if they are not already familiar with it as well as introducing your committee to the local law enforcement personnel.
- Ask them for suggestions on keeping alcohol and other drugs away from Grad Night.
- Ask them to set up safety patrols during the night of graduation and help spread the word of Grad Night.
- Coordinate your Security plans with the police patrols outside Grad Night.
- Ask if your police Department will donate their time to help patrol. Uniformed police officers outside the Grad Night can be a big deterrent to those who might wish to crash or disturb the Grad Night event.
It is important to remember that your goal is to ensure that the Graduates have a safe, sober and spectacular evening. The following ideas have been successfully used by Grad Night Committees:
Letters to the Neighbors
- Many communities have "noise" ordinances, which restrict outside noise into the community. To avoid problems and encourage the support and cooperation of the neighbors who live in the area, write and hand deliver a letter informing them of the date, time and plans for Grad Night.
- Invite the neighbors to your Grad Night Open House. Show your enthusiasm for this once-a-year event and ask for their support and patience on this one night. Deliver the letter a couple of weeks before Grad Night.
Based on the layout of your Grad Night, identify your staffing needs including these areas:
- Graduate Ticket check -in area
- Graduate coat/backpack check in area
- Entertainment Areas
- Food Areas
- Check-in area for Volunteers
- Security Office/Communications
- First Aid Area
- Parking areas
- Patrol/fixed stations around Grad Night perimeter
In addition, you might also need to plan security for the following times:
- Protecting the Grad Night area and decorations during Grad Night setup.
- Grad Night Open House.
- During school graduation and immediately before the Grad Night.
Training For Security Staff
When you receive the names of the people assigned to Security, contact them to let them know their specific job and responsibilities.
- Furnish each Security Staff member a copy of the Grad Night Policies.
- Communicate to each person the importance of arriving on time, staying at their assigned position, and leaving the Grad Night upon completion of their shift.
- Let them know if they should bring a flashlight.
- Tell them where they are to report to check in for their shift.
- Request they bring personal identification.
- Conduct on-site training one or two nights before the Grad Night.
Check-In Procedures For the Graduates
Word to the Wise: The Ticket Sales Committee must have a procedure to verify the graduates and provide them with identification to allow entry into the Grad Night. To assist verification, the school should provide a list of graduates and a copy of the school yearbook with photo ID. In addition, not all seniors graduate. Your Grad Night committee must establish a policy for those graduates who were seniors but did not graduate. All committee members, graduates, parents, and school administration need to know this policy to prevent problems at the Grad Night entrance.
Word to the Wise: The policy is enforced for the safety of all persons to prevent unauthorized substances or items to be carried into the Grad Night.
Word to the Wise: Late entrance is typically authorized only in unusual circumstances (unless arrangements were made in advance) and should be verified by telephone to the graduate's parent/guardian.
- Coordinate with the Ticket Sales Committee how to identify those graduates who are authorized to enter the Grad Night.
- The Ticket Sales Committee should provide each graduate with an ID tag, bracelet or necklace. The graduates should be advised that the ID is to be worn at all times during the Grad Night and that anyone without their ID will be escorted to the Security Office.
- Prior to entrance, all graduates should be required to check-in unnecessary items such as purses, backpacks, bags, jackets etc. Most Grad Nights emphasize that it is unnecessary to bring anything into Grad Night. This policy can also apply to volunteers and vendors.
- At check-in, each graduate should be given a unique numbered check-in bag for their belongings. Unnecessary items should be placed in the bags and stored in the check-in area during the Grad Night. The bag number should match the graduate ID number or ticket number.
- The Check Room attendants must be alert for objects or substances that could disrupt the Grad Night. The graduates should not be allowed to remove their checked bags until the close of the Grad Night. The graduates should be allowed to have access to the bags during Grad Night to use personal items such as combs, lipstick or to store prizes.
- To avoid a "crunch" at the start and end of the Grad Night, extra staff should be scheduled to help get the graduates quickly in and out of the party.
- Establish a deadline (usually around midnight) when the parents of "no-shows" (those who purchased tickets but did not check in to the Grad Night) will be called to inform them that their graduate is not at the Grad Night.
- After the doors close, the only valid entrance to the Grad Night should be through the Security Office.
- Graduates who wish to check out early should be referred to the Security Office.
Check-In For the Volunteers
Believe it or not, adults do try to crash Grad Night parties! In addition, not all Grad Night staff will remember their job assignment and workstation.
- The Volunteer Check-In should be located away from the GradNight check-in. The volunteer check-In station could also be the location of the Security Office.
- Entrance to Grad Night should be restricted to the graduates, Grad Night staff and volunteers, entertainers, game and food vendors, and special guests invited by the Grad Night Committee. Only those with prior authorization should be admitted. All persons not properly identified should be referred to the Security office.
- Names of volunteers and vendors should be posted at the volunteer and vendor check-in area. The volunteer workstation and shift should be listed at the check in area. Many schools require identification at check-in. Ensure this is publicized so a volunteer does not show up without proper ID. Each Grad Night Committee needs to provide a list of the names and shift assignments to Security to expedite volunteer and vendor check-in.
- Provide each volunteer and vendor with an ID Badge. Remind them that they are to report immediately to their workstation and to leave the Grad Night area at the end of their shift. Also remind them that there is a volunteer/vendor rest area where coffee and food is available. Request they not use the graduates' food and drink areas. Request they return their ID badge at the conclusion of their shift.
- Your policy should clearly indicate what would happen to any vendor or volunteer who arrives under the influence. Determine your procedure for dealing with this situation before the Grad Night party.
- A central security office should be established. The security office could be combined with Volunteer Check-in. It is essential that a telephone and central communications be located at this station.
- All questionable Grad Night participants (graduates or staff without ID tags) should be brought to the security office to determine their status. If the ID badge was lost and the attendee is legitimate, issue a new one. If the person is a Grad Night crasher, they should be escorted outside the Grad Night area. If necessary, the Police Department should be requested to assist.
- If a graduate wishes to leave early, they should be directed to the security office. Many Grad Nights telephone their parent or guardian to obtain approval that their graduate is leaving the Grad Night party. Many Grad Nights also do not allow the graduate to return to the party and that prizes will only be awarded to those present when the name is drawn. If the graduate insists on leaving, notify the parent/guardian, obtain their check-in bag and wait for parents to pick them up in the Security Office.
First Aid Station
- A First Aid area staffed with trained medical people should be available at Grad Night. Most Grad Nights have a nurse or similar trained medical person on duty all night. If a graduate requires prescription medication, prior arrangements should be made between the parents of the graduate and the medical people.
Word to the Wise: The parking area is typically not within the controlled Grad Night party area. If a graduate indicates they need to obtain something from their parked automobile, a Grad Night volunteer or Security Officer should escort them to the automobile and back into the party.
Parking Area Patrol
- Volunteers assigned to parking lot security should monitor pre-entry activities and should be very visible to deter disruptive behavior. Uniformed police officers are ideal in tandem with Grad Night volunteer security personnel.
Security of Grad Night Perimeter
It is typically necessary to assign both stationary and roving security volunteers to monitor the Grad Night perimeter areas. This is to ensure that no one exits or enters except through the check-in areas.
- Those stationed at a fixed position should remain at that area until relieved by a roving patroller.
- No one should be allowed to enter or leave the Grad Night party except via the authorized check-in areas. Persons who attempt to break into or out of the party should be referred to the Security Office.
- The security personnel should be especially alert to doors, gates and fences in dark areas. Extra temporary lighting should be installed in the dark and blind spots.
A Final Thought
Most Grad Nights are conducted without a single problem. The Graduates are so excited because of the spectacular fun of Grad Night that they are not usually interested in trying to escape or break any Grad Night policy.
You may not have to cope with any of the potential problems discussed here, but it is wise to be prepared. Discuss possible problems and have a plan. Be firm, but courteous.