End-of-the-year senior tradition almost changed

Class of 2020’s Sober Grad Night back on schedule after a few bumps in the road


GBT.org illustration/KATE FERNANDEZ

Circulations of rumors cause seniors to raise concerns about possible Sober Grad Night changes.

Tradition can be hard to let go of, which is why a recent proposal to change Sober Grad Night resulted in mixed emotions among seniors. 

For the past 21 years, GBHS has held its Sober Grad Night at Sunsplash in Roseville. The event is a celebration on the night of graduation dedicated to the graduating senior class. Often viewed by students as one last hurrah with their classmates, there is an emphasis on keeping students safe from drug and alcohol use. 

Roseville Joint Union High School District officials announced last fall that they would be changing the graduation ceremonies for the high schools. Rather than graduating at the individual high school sites, district will all graduate at The Grounds Event Center in Roseville, with GBHS scheduled to have their ceremony at 3 p.m. Thursday, May 28. 

Unfortunately, the change in graduation ceremonies also affected Sober Grad Night. Margot Birch, one of the coordinators of the 2020 event, has been working to ensure this year’s Sober Grad Night is as successful as ever, despite the changes. 

“Due to the RJUHSD’s decision this past fall to change the day of our 2020 graduation ceremony to Thursday, we felt that it was important to find a venue for the actual graduation day,“ Birch said. “Sunsplash was able to move us to Friday, but did not have Thursday available.” 

As a result of Sunsplash’s unavailability on Thursday night, the committee began to search for other options. However, because of graduation venue change was only made in the fall – and because usually venues are booked 12 to 15 months in advance – there was minimal availability. 

“Based on limited driver availability, we could only consider venues between here and the Bay Area,” Birch said. 

Six Flags, Great America, SF Boat Cruise and Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk were all considered as alternative options, but only Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk was able to accommodate more than 250 students. Last year, 453 students attended Sober Grad Night, and historically 80% of the graduating class attends. 

As rumors of the change in the event  began to circulate, students contemplated the possibility of abandoning this long-held tradition and instead traveling to Santa Cruz. 

“I thought the new location for Sober Grad Night sounded fun and was enthusiastic about it,”senior Alonzo Cannon said. “I heard a lot of people like the idea of the new location but thought it wasn’t realistic and wouldn’t get much attendance because of how far away it was.” 

Other students, however, were less than enthusiastic about the possibility of a change. 

“I was a little bit upset because Sunsplash has been a tradition for (Sober Grad Night),” senior Jess Fayer said. 

Maddy Earhart, a fellow senior, was more passionate about they issue.  

“Santa Cruz should never have been an option – at least that’s my opinion, because it just wouldn’t work,” Earhart said.“They can’t take (Sober Grad Night) from me and they can’t take that from the rest of us. I will not budge on that.”

They can’t take (Sober Grad Night) from me and they can’t take that from the rest of us.

— Maddy Earhart

Making sure to keep students directly involved in the decision, the committee sent out a poll for seniors to vote on their preference.

“For two months, we worked with administration, senior class officers, plus other seniors and parents through various sports and booster organizations,” Birch said. “Once we found an alternative option for Thursday night, the Senior class sent out a survey. Sunsplash on Friday was chosen with a majority vote over Santa Cruz on Thursday.” 

On Jan. 23, GBHS officially confirmed to students via email that, in keeping with tradition, this year’s Sober Grad Night will be held on Friday night at Sunsplash. 

“The excitement of possibly getting to go to Disneyland or Universal Studios was leading the willingness to change from a (21-year) local tradition,” Birch said. “Once our only option was our fourth choice, it was no longer as exciting.” 

Once again, students have some mixed feelings about the decision.

“Now that I know it’s at Sunsplash, I’m kind of disappointed that we didn’t change it up for the class of 2020,” Cannon said. “But I am OK with the decision.”

On the other hand, Fayer is “glad that we are continuing our tradition to do (Sober Grad Night) at Sunsplash.” 

Earhart was also enthusiastic to learn of the decision to keep the tradition. 

“I’m good now, (it was really about) the tradition behind all of it, and before we had to be like ‘Hey, tell us what’s going on’ and they should’ve been telling us what was going on to begin with,” Earhart said.

Some students, however, fear that attendance will be impacted because Sober Grad Night is no longer on the night of graduation, but rather a day after. 

“I do think that attendance might be lowered a little bit because some people might not care anymore,” Fayer said. 

Cannon agreed that the date change could negatively impact student turnout.

“I believe Sober Grad Night being after graduation will highly affect attendance because … people will opt for their own organized events instead,” Cannon said. 

Currently, it is unclear if the change in graduation will affect next year’s Sober Grad Night also, but according to Birch it is a possibility. 

“There is not yet confirmation from the district that our graduation day will always be on Thursday at 3 or if there will be some sort of rotation among the six schools,” Birch said.   

Despite the recent turmoil, the event committee remains dedicated to organizing and helping seniors celebrate. 

“We are hard at work and excited,” Birch said, “to plan a safe and memorable night for our seniors.”