Table of Contents

Getting Started

This section contains introductory ideas and suggestions. This information is great for beginners and also as a guide for retuning volunteers. The first year may be the most challenging for the graduates and parents to "buy into" this new idea called Grad Night. Be positive and confident that your goal of creating successful Grad Night will be reached.

The Most Important Element: The Parents

  • Parents play the most important role in organizing the celebration. Parents of the graduates are more willing to volunteer their time and talents to benefit their children.
  • Many parents are a great resource of talents, skills, and community contacts that will be invaluable in planning a celebration of this kind.

Build an Army!

Developing an active core group of motivated parent volunteers is a crucial first step in planning and conducting a successful Grad Night. The following are some steps that have worked at other Grad Night schools:

1. Schedule an Introductory Meeting

Invite a cross section of moms and dads to an introductory meeting. Be sure to invite parents representing different interests such as athletics, music, drama, pep squad, drill team, graduate leadership, academic high achievers, and various graduate clubs. You may also want to invite parents who are currently leaders of school parent organizations such as the PTA, and athletic booster clubs. You may also want to include parents of underclassmen and other supporters of youth activities in the community such as AYSO volunteers, scout leaders, church and service club advisors.

The purpose of the introductory meeting is to (1) introduce the concept of Grad Night, (2) get parents and community members excited about doing a Grad Night, and (3) recruit volunteers.

2. Send Out Meeting Invitations

A sample meeting invitation is shown in this document.

Word to the Wise: At all schools, parents typically report having as much fun doing the Grad Night as the graduates who attend it. This is not "one more carpool" or "coaching job" for already burdened parents. This is a chance to be creative, work together, make new friends, and participate in a "gift of love" to their graduates.

3. Prepare for the Introductory Meeting

  • Arrange to use a meeting room (school, church, library, community meeting room).
  • If required, arrange the use of a VCR, TV and/or overhead projector (contact the school Audio/Visual Department).
  • Arrange to have coffee, tea, and soft drinks...
  • Provide sign-up sheets for people to work on Grad Night committees. The sheets should include name, address, home/work phone numbers, and whether they are a senior parent, an underclassman parent or a community member.

Word to the Wise: One of the most successful ways to recruit Grad Night team members is through personal contact. Some people may be reluctant to read or respond to a questionnaire but everyone typically responds to a "face-to-face" (or telephone) inquiry.

Fall gatherings such as Back-To-School Night, football games, booster club meetings, etc., offer great opportunities to spread the word about Grad Night. Take every opportunity to invite interested parents to join the team and always have a note pad handy to record their name and phone number.

4. At the Meeting

  • Welcome the Attendees.
  • Introduce yourself and other committee members.
  • Explain the purpose and schedule of the meeting.
  • State the purpose and objectives of a Grad Night see Section 2, above.
  • Identify if other High schools in your area already have a Grad Night.
  • If available, provide information from past Grad Nights.
  • Discuss the marketability of a Grad Night versus a private party or theme parks (such as Disneyland).
  • If available, show a Grad Night video (one from a past Grad Night at your school, nearby high school, or contact
  • Discuss party theme ideas (see this document) but make no decision at this time (people might vote for a particular theme and then end up not volunteering to help).
  • Tell everyone how much fun it is for parents to work on a Grad Night Celebration.

5. Recruit the Team:

  • Obtain commitments from parent volunteers to serve on the Grad Night Executive Board, Committee Chairs, Co-chairs, or other committee assignments.

Grad Night Organization

See also: the main section on Organization

The Executive Committee (Chairperson, Secretary, and Treasurer)

Choose or elect one or more persons to be the Grad Night Chairperson (or chairpersons), Treasurer and Secretary. These chairpersons make up the "Executive Committee" (see Section on Executive Committee).

Other Committees

Obtain volunteers to serve as chairpersons for other Grad Night committees such as Food, Entertainment, Cleanup, Security, Decorations, Volunteers, Fundraising, Publicity, Prizes, and Ticket Sales. Some Grad Nights may want to make each of these committees the responsibility of a separate committee chair while other schools may combine them. More information on these committees is found in the following sections.

Make it easy on everyone -- Give as many people as possible a piece of the action.


It is important to keep records of what you did and how you did it. Committee chairpersons should be advised at the beginning to record their experiences to pass on to future Grad Nights (Click here for a sample committee report). A deadline should be set for turning in the reports.

Sponsorship and Endorsement

Word to the Wise: PTA and PTO's have an established identity and rapport with the school administration and the school board. They may also have contacts with city officials, which can smooth the way for special items such as the use of a party night facility. They may also be willing to donate money, volunteers, and food.

But be aware that PTA sponsorship requires compliance to PTA rules. If your Grad Night is unwilling or unable to follow these rules, do not accept PTA sponsorship (see the section on PTA-Grad Night Relationship).

The purpose of obtaining sponsorship/endorsement is to obtain free (or reduced-rate) items such as decorations, equipment, supplies, and facilities. Try to have as many sponsors as possible. Endorsements from other organizations lend credibility to the Grad Night party and encourage parents and community volunteers to take an active part.

Organizations That May Wish to Sponsor Grad Night

  • PTA/PTO.
  • School Booster Clubs.
  • Community Associations (Lions, Rotary, Kiwanis).
  • Government Agencies (Highway Patrol, City Council).
  • Churches.

School Support

The school administration, teachers, and faculty can help promote the party and may also be willing to work as volunteers at the party. In some cases, the schools can also provide supplies and services. The following is a partial list of what may be available:

  • List of Graduates (including parent names phone numbers and addresses).
  • Preprinted home address mailing labels for all the Graduates.
  • Places to hang posters in Schools.
  • Bulk-rate mailing permit.
  • Laminating materials.
  • Artist assistance.
  • Contacts with community groups.
  • Space in the school newsletter.
  • Facilities to hold committee meetings.
  • Use of copying machines, opaque projectors, overhead projectors, lettering guides, etc. Individual pictures of graduates.
  • Storage space for supplies and decorations.
  • Facility to hold the Grad Night event.

Themes and Activities

The most successful Grad Nights are designed so that the activities and decorations revolve around a single theme (See this document for some ideas).

Sample Grad Night Party Schedule

8 to 11 PMCheck-in
10 PM to EndMusic and Dancing
10 PM to EndFood
10 PM to EndDrawings for Small Prizes
3 to 4:30 AMMajor Entertainment
4:30 AMLight Breakfast
5 to 6 AMBig Prize Raffle--Finale

After the Celebration

After the last graduate walks out the door the celebration may be over, but there are things to be done: