North Tahoe grads clean the slate with senior trip |

North Tahoe grads clean the slate with senior trip

Bonnie Dodge/Special to the SunNorth Tahoe graduates, pictured here at a Southern California beach, underwent a lot of pressure this year to have their grad night trip tp Disneyland run smoothly and soberly. The trip was successful and helped to shake off the negative events that occured in previous years' trips.

North Tahoe High class of 2006 proved that a good time can be had while sober.

In danger of missing out on Project Grad Night, the traditional post-grad excursion to Disneyland and other stops in Southern California, after past years’ trips gained a bad rap, seniors of North Tahoe’s departing classmates were given a message by law enforcement, parents and the community groups who fund the trip: This was a last chance.

“I spoke to the kids at the [graduation] rehearsal and told them what I expected,” said Helen Thomson, a Placer County detective and Project Grad Night chaperone. “Drugs and alcohol were unacceptable and they would be sent home at their parents’ expense.”

Evan Sitkoff, who will be entering his freshman year at UC Santa Barbara in the fall, was one of the high school students who volunteered for the fundraising events that helped pay for the trip.

“Sobriety was the main thing; last year there was the big deal of people abusing substances,” Sitkoff said. “It was good that this year everything went smoothly ” people understood it had to be a positive experience or it wouldn’t happen again.”

The students boarded a bus immediately after their graduation, but not before having their bags searched and getting patted down, and spent about three days in Southern California from Disneyland to Balboa Island and assorted beaches.

“The best part about graduation night in Disneyland was from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m.,” said Adam Henriques, who will enter Cal Poly in the fall.

Class President Abby Groman expressed her appreciation of the Project Grad Night committee’s efforts.

“They did a wonderful job,” she said. “It was nice we could show the community we’re not just drunks.”

Fundraising for the trip is predominantly community group-sponsored as well as parent-sponsored and started last September. Since that point, students got an earful every chance parents could get. With 10 chaperones on hand, led by one law enforcement officer and a tight, back to back schedule, the seniors knew how seriously parents and other donors were taking their behavior.

“They were actually under a lot of pressure to have this thing run smoothly,” Thomson said. “They made it a success, not me.”

“The pressure made us realize what was at stake,” Henriques said. “I definitely hope we can be role models and set a positive example.”

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