GHS Graduation 06-09-17 301

(Photo - 2017 GHS Graduation - Doug Jorgensen)

High school senior parents in Livermore are working to raise funds to continue a graduation tradition for this year’s senior class.

Safe & Sober Grad Night has been an institution at Livermore High School (LHS) and Granada High School (GHS) for years. The events – celebrated separately at each school – provide a safe place for seniors to celebrate the end of their high school career, but hurdles to fundraising have put this year’s events in danger.

“Safe & Sober Graduation Night provides a supervised and safe environment for graduates to celebrate the time of their lives without risking their lives,” said Melissa Lortie, whose son is a senior at GHS. “This event greatly reduces the risk of harm to the graduates and the community at large when the danger of driving under the influence is unusually high. It keeps students off the roads as they celebrate their accomplishments by enjoying activities, music, food, prizes, and entertainment during the event on the high school’s campus.”

The events usually start late in the evening, at 10 p.m. or later, and run until the early hours of the next day. Student tickets go on sale at the beginning of the school year and increase in price over time. Tickets give students access to a night of fun, entertainment and activities.

Lortie is the fundraising chair for the Granada event. She said normally parents can raise close to $60,000 to fund the celebration by hosting a variety of fundraisers throughout the year, but many of those have been modified or cancelled due to the pandemic, leaving the Safe & Sober Grad Night short of money.

“We have raised approximately $45,000 at this point,” said Lortie. “We have six more fundraising events on the calendar that we are hoping will help us get there. It really takes a village. In the meantime, we are seeking outside donations and sponsorships wherever possible for cash donations to help close the gap as much as we can.”

As difficult as their shortage is, GHS has fared better than LHS. Diana Luna is co-chair of Livermore High’s event and said their group is currently falling far short of its goal.

“We need donations of any amount,” Luna said. “We are close to putting up a GoFundMe, hoping people will donate $20 or $25 . . . we are sitting at $25,000, so we need donations from the community or gift cards for vendors we can gift the kids the night of the event, things like that. We are still hoping to raise $40,000.”

Funds raised for the events at both schools will go to students, even if the events are cancelled for some reason, as happened last year. Seniors of the class of 2020 each received gift cards to Amazon, and the committees for the events used remaining funds to purchase decorations for the drive-through graduation ceremonies.

Both schools have partnered with local businesses to host dine-out nights, with a percentage of profits going to the events. Students have sold everything from pies to merchandise; GHS hosted a drive-through crab feed, and LHS held a drive-through meat sale. Lortie said Granada will host its first in-person fundraiser at McGrail Vineyards on May 1, featuring a five-course food and wine pairing and live music.

“We can only hope this celebration can bring the much-needed joy to finish out their high school career,” Lortie added. “At this time, Granada and Livermore are both working really hard to host a Safe & Sober Grad Night for these kids. Fundraising has been a challenge during COVID and we are doing everything possible to reach our financial goals and keep these celebrations moving forward.”

Sarah Robinson is a senior at GHS and her mother, Heidi Robinson, is the chair of Granada’s event. The 18-year-old is looking forward to grad night, although details are being kept secret.

“I’m very excited,” Robinson said. “I’ve seen my mom putting it together, so I’m more on the knowledgeable side than other kids, but I definitely hope it happens this year because I am very excited to have this one last celebration with my friends.”

For more information on Granada’s Safe & Sober Grad Night, or to donate, call Melissa Lortie at 925-895-4051 or email ghs.2021.ssgn.donations@gmail.com. Granada High School’s “Sip, sip hooray!” fundraiser with McGrail Vineyards will be held on Saturday, May 1, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit www.ghsgradnight2021.com/fundraising. For more information on Livermore’s Safe & Sober Grad Night, or to donate, call Diana Luna at 925-337-4000.