Safegrad Behind the Scenes
By Nicola S.
The end of the year is drawing near and many graduates are becoming restless. They can almost taste the freedom they will soon have, but exams and final projects stand in their way. Libraries are full and so are notebooks, not to mention minds overflowing with facts, dates, and formulas. One thing getting many graduates through the stress of this time of year is the thought of the upcoming party of a lifetime: safegrad.
Safegrad is an enormous alcohol and drug free party thrown every year to celebrate all of that year’s graduates. This tradition was started at Fredericton High to avoid the dangers of young people being under the influence around graduation time. It was created to bring all the graduates together for one last night where they can be safe and have a great time. The party is held at Magaguadavic Lake where the students are bussed out to after their graduation ceremonies at the Aitken Center. Safegrad boasts many fun and unique activities that really make it memorable.
“Safegrad was an awesome end to grad year, it was one of my best memories,” said Liam MacDonald, a graduate of the class of 2012. “They had a blow up castle, karaoke, a hypnotist, a bonfire, and of course fireworks. The fireworks were amazing, they were the best part for sure.”
However, putting on a party of this magnitude every year is not an easy feat. Safegrad costs approximately 30 thousand dollars to put on. This money must come from donations or fundraising, which is where the Safegrad Committee comes in to play. This committee is made up of 15 grade 12 girls and the teacher advisors Mrs. Noella Jeong and Mr. Peter MacMillan. The committee was chosen in November through an application and interview process. The girls have been working all year to raise the money needed for this event.
“It took a lot of fundraising hours standing at the NB Liquor store or at the Saint Mary’s bingo hall, but we did it. Everyone had to work together and give it their all,” said Lauren Audas, one of the members of the committee.
Some of the other fundraising opportunities the Safegrad Committee participated in this year were Winterfest, the Farmer’s Market, Papa John’s pizza coupon sales, 50/50 ticket sales, canteens at sporting events, coat checks at school dances etc.
“Many grads don’t understand how much work we have put in all year to bring them safegrad, they don’t know about all the weekends and evenings we spent fundraising. The other thing they don’t know is how much fun we had doing it,” said Audas.
The safegrad committee didn’t just raise money for safegrad, it also organized and put on many other events throughout the school year. The committees secondary goal was to make their fellow student’s grad year amazing. The safegrad girls planned casino night, spring spirit night, and toonie and a tin. All the proceeds from these three events went to safegrad.
Casino night was a huge success, the cafeteria was transformed into a casino fit for a James Bond movie. Graduates dressed up in black, red, silver, and gold and tried their luck at blackjack, poker, and roulette. The grads then spent their winnings on prizes sold in an auction in the Tom Morrison Theatre.
“Casino night was the most fun event all year for sure, I think most people would agree. It wasn’t easy to put on but the night was amazing,” said Devon Doucett, another member of the committee.
Spring Spirit Night was a new event this year. It was thought up by a parent and brought to life by the committee. This night featured fun games, an auction, student musical talent, and a trivia game dubbed “Are you smarter than a 12th grader?” where a student team took on a parent team and then a teacher team, ending with a student victory.
The final event organized by the committee this year was Toonie and a Tin. This event was very popular with students of all ages and not just graduates. This event was a hockey game where the FHS Black Kats take on a teacher team full of former all-stars. Prior to the game, the girls raised money and awareness about the game by having a barbeque and a dunk tank in the school parking lot. During the game, the Black Kats team was coached by three grads and they became excitable as the teacher’s lead grew throughout the game, breaking clipboards and yelling on the bench. The school spirit at this game was at an all time high when grads showed up toting signs and sporting bodies painted with FHS colours.
Though it seemed to outside eyes that the Safegrad Committee had everything under control, it wasn’t always this way.
“We were worried we wouldn’t be able to raise all the money we needed, halfway through the year a lot of us were pretty nervous because it seemed like we weren’t even close to our goal,” said Lauren Audas.
Since the committee was only formed in late November, the committee missed out on many fundraising opportunities earlier in the year such as Drive One For Your School. Many of the girls now consider this late start to have been one of their biggest struggles on the path to raising 30 thousand dollars.
In previous years, there wasn’t a Safegrad Committee, but a very large and general Grad Class Executive that planned grad events, theme days, prom, and safegrad. There were many issues with this committee, some being the size and the number of responsibilities the committee had. After multiple internal conflicts throughout the year, some resulting in students quitting or being removed from the committee and teacher supervisors getting discouraged, it was decided there would be no Grad Class Executive in future years.
When the class of 2013 realized there would be no Grad Class Executive, an uproar began on facebook and within the school halls. After a few days, the graduates found out their safegrad may be at risk because there were no teacher supervisors and no committee or group to raise the money needed, and the grads were furious.
“We all knew we needed some sort of grad committee to plan events and stuff to help us have a fun grad year. At first we didn’t even know safegrad was on the line,” said Devon Doucett. “Once we all heard our safegrad might be at risk, so many of us stepped forward and said we were ready to help raise the money. I think we all realized safegrad can’t be just taken for granted.”
Thankfully Mrs. Noella Jeong and Mr. Peter MacMillan stepped up to the plate and made the Safegrad Committee possible. As soon as the committee was formed all the girls moved in to one homeroom and by that time they already had ideas to increase school spirit and raise money while they’re at it. The two teacher supervisors worked closely with the 15 girls and a dedicated group of parents throughout the year.
The 30 thousand dollars cannot be totally attributed to fundraising and events, however. Many donations from businesses and individuals in the community made the dream of safegrad come to fruition.
“There was this one day in homeroom where we just had to address tons of letters to pretty much ever business we had ever heard of begging them to donate money to us for safegrad.” said Lauren Audas. “A lot of them did donate too, I think it’s because safegrad is such a good cause and people like to support it.”
Even though the girls have worked all year to raise the money needed for safegrad, many of them don’t even know what exactly goes on that night.
Though some of them have heard small pieces of information from former graduates, the whole picture still remains unclear. The girls on the committee get no special treatment. When it comes to revealing secrets, they are left just as much in the dark as the rest of their grad class.
“We try to keep it hush hush. It’s generally pretty mysterious so the grads are pleasantly surprised when they arrive,” said Noella Jeong, one of the teacher supervisors for the committee.
Since safegrad is now less than two weeks away, the girls are finally realizing how much their hard work has done for their fellow students.
“Every time I hear someone talk about how good this year was, I know in a way that it was because of us. Though we aren’t always thanked directly, the grads really appreciate what we have done this year. I don’t think any effort was wasted,” said Devon Doucett. “I just can’t wait to see everyone’s faced when they step off the busses at the lake and know that their smiles wouldn’t have been possible without all of us.”
Nicola S. is a student at FHS who is unbelievably excited for safegrad.