Grad Night’s a Wrap

June 11, 2016

If you work on something for the better part of year, you really want it to be a success. You want to end on a soaring, positive note and feel like all the effort, all the grief, was worth it.

Mission accomplished.

I was dubious. I had my moments of wondering who this was all for. The hundreds of volunteers, the tens and tens and tens of thousands of dollars, the excruciating detail I doubted anyone would ever appreciate. I never questioned that all the effort was to benefit the kids, but I did question the degree of parental and community involvement. At times, it seemed so far over the top, I really had to wonder if the whole Grad Night enterprise would not benefit from a massive overhaul, a revisit of the mission. After all, all healthy organizations go through, or should go through, that exercise. It seemed like Grad Night was collapsing from the sheer weight of something that was over-organized, something that had become the Winchester Mystery House of events, something stuck in a lot of dated paradigms, but with a tinge of modern fixes slapped on. And when you’re in it, stuck in processes that are the way it’s always been, you get bogged down. I thought maybe we were losing the vision a little.

Old administrators have a hard time being worker bees when things are not tight and efficient. There was so much I wanted to fix.

And.. there was a ton that worked really, really well.  So who’s going to argue?

And, best of all, we’re through it. It went off without a hitch. And I get to walk away. I will leave its revamping to future parents.

Most importantly, the kids who attended–some 500 of them–had a great time. They had a place to be, a place to release, a place to hang with friends in a fairly intimate setting. It was a huge gift that the parents and community gave them–a last great party–and I think they’ll remember it and appreciate the effort. Peter really and truly had a fantastic time. Stayed to the bitter end. Had stories to tell. This, certainly, is a good thing.

I’d taken Matt, Michael, Heidi and Manoj over for the public tours in the late afternoon on Friday, just hours before doors would open for the grads. I got a few pictures. The mood is really enhanced when the sun goes down and the lights come up, but there was a lot to be impressed by when the final decorating touches had been complete.

Here is a corner of the casino. Note the chandeliers. This room was all about Alice in Wonderland.


Here is the Hogwarts-themed music room where Boxer Bingo, henna tattoos, massage chairs and movies (Harry Potter, of course) took place. The brick and nighttime sky effect are achieved with wall paper. Every piece of furniture is brought in:


And here’s some hallway detail leading to Hogwarts:


This hallway, leading to the restaurant, is Great Gatsby-themed:


And it just sorta goes on and on. I asked Peter whether he enjoyed the Friends’ Cafe, a corner of Emerson that was set up to look like the Central Perk Cafe from the Friends TV show, with giant subway maps and NYC skylines and comfy furniture… and he’d missed that detail! He liked the mocha slushies they served though–his favorite of all the food, he said. I think that happens a lot. More detail than the kids will ever appreciate.

Peter said he’d missed Bernie Sanders, who welcomed students when they first entered the hall… I didn’t get a photo when it was all set up, but here’s a photo-op taken a couple weeks prior at an organizing meeting:


I have some final evaluations and wrap ups to do before I’m done with my duties, but for the kids, Grad Night’s a wrap.

DHS-Grad-Night-2016 logo







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