LATHROP – The Lathrop High School Sober Grad tonight after the graduation ceremonies will be something special.
The graduates taking part in the all-night safe and fun celebration make up the first graduating class that attended all four years at the new campus in west Lathrop.
Graduation ceremonies will begin at 7 p.m. this evening. Immediately following will be the Sober Grad party, also held at the school.
Like most high school campuses, this project relies on the hard work, dedication, and untiring efforts of a group of volunteers, many of them parents of the students. The effort is especially challenging to a “young” and still-growing campus like Lathrop High School.
“In order to help students celebrate in a safe environment, a small group of parents has started the tradition of holding a Sober Grad Party at the school all night after the commencement ceremony,” explained Shari Downum, one of the parent volunteers whose son, Russ, is the first student from Lathrop High to be accepted to West Point. He was also accepted to attend Annapolis Academy but chose to go to West Point.
“While most local Sober Grad Night committees have funds and an existing program to build off of, the Lathrop High School Sober Grad committee started with absolutely no funds at the beginning of the school,” Downum said.
The Sober Grad event that was held last year “was pulled off by a great group of parents who pulled a successful, smaller event off in the last minute in order to make sure those seniors had a safe place to celebrate,” she added.
This time, the party for the graduates will offer a little bit more for the outgoing seniors to enjoy and remember as they head off to the next chapter in their lives. This is being made possible by the generosity of many individuals and area businesses, said a grateful Downum.
The party food fare will be more of a feast compared to last year’s gastronomical offering – tri-tip sandwiches, tacos and salads, plus an ice cream sundae bar donated by San Joaquin County Sheriff Steve Moore.
For entertainment and fun, there will be a local DJ, a hypnotist plus fun activities including bull riding, sumo wrestling, surf riding, an obstacle course, a Cash Cube, and photo booth, just to name a few.
Additionally, there will be raffle prizes for the graduates donated by more than 30 businesses, Downum said. The major raffle prize for the evening is an electric scooter donated by USA Motors, Lathrop’s one and only car dealer.
All of the above would not have been possible “if it were not for our local businesses donating either funds or gifts for our Lathrop High School graduates,” Downum said.
Some of the major sponsors of tonight’s Sober Grad party include the following: MUST (Manteca Unified School Trust) Foundation, Lathrop Chevron/Circle K, Dell’Osso Family Farms, Lathrop High School Athletic Boosters, Gordon Trucking, CBC Steel Building, Teamsters Local 439, Lathrop Councilman Sonny Dhaliwal, and Togo’s in Lathrop.
The value of this community support was not lost on the Downum and the Lathrop Sober Grad committee who emphatically pointed out that there are plenty of good news like this happening in the community that the public does not hear about.
“I am a human resources director at a Bay Area company and have been for 25 years. The one philosophy I have always been taught to do business by is that if you give to the community, your success will follow. These businesses that did not hesitate to donate no matter how tough times are embody that philosophy,” she said.
“I have made sure that every parent I have worked with since I have been working on this (Sober Grad) project knows what businesses were great about supporting our graduates, and I will make sure to continue to do so. It is great to see our community pull together and support this school and our graduates,” Downum concluded.