Conard High School graduates experienced a well-deserved night filled with fun and games as they celebrated their accomplishments during the 2018 Safe Grad event.
By Maddie Geerlof. Photos by Ronni Newton and Hunter Marotto
Conard High School’s class of 2018 enjoyed a spectacle complete with games, food, prizes – just to name a few of the many wonders that greeted them at this year’s carnival-styled Safe Grad event.
Beginning at 10 p.m. Tuesday night, only hours after the class of 2018’s commencement ceremony, Conard’s graduating seniors walked through a “clown-mouth” entrance which led them into school’s completely transformed main hallway. Immediately upon entering, students experienced the flashing lights, bright colors, and excitement that a real carnival offers – making it difficult to believe that students and faculty flooded the area on their way to classes only a few days prior.
“It’s completely interactive this year,” Safe Grad Decorating Committee co-chair and artist Becca Schweitzer said. Since work on Safe Grad began in October, Schweitzer, Decorating Committee co-chair Deena Conelli, and a team of parents have been working hard in the basement of St. Mark’s Church, which generously donates their space, to bring the vision to life.
The carnival’s arcade was not just for show; every inch of the hallway had something for someone to do and included activities of all interests.
Schweitzer said that she agreed to chair the Decorating Committee if she could choose the theme. “My son [new graduate Max Schweitzer] loves carnivals. I thought it was a great theme and really good theme to decorate.”
Safe Grad is a program organized by the parents of the students that allows graduating seniors to celebrate their success and memories alongside their closest friends in an all-night celebration from 10 p.m. to 5 a.m. in the hallways of their now former high school. As has been the tradition since the first Safe Grad at Conard in 1985, it’s a gift to the grads, who do not need to pay anything to attend. Attendance is typically near 100 percent.
Beginning last Friday evening, dedicated volunteers worked tirelessly to finalize the intricate details of the spectacle, putting up all of the decorations that had been built and staged at St. Marks. Throughout the main hallway, carnival-themed games lined the walls including a fan-favorite called the “Bacon Race,” a race among electronic pigs that oink and “run” down the track. There were also plenty of photo-boards, a fortune-teller station, and murals.
A longtime Conard Safe Grad tradition, the “Cash Cab,” was parked at the end of Carnival’s main stretch, right in front of a light-up roller coaster mural and ferris wheel, for students to answer questions and win prizes. The 8-foot ferris wheel really turned – energized by a rotisserie motor.
The cafeteria was converted into a crowd-pleasing eatery which featured a cereal bar, cotton candy, hot dogs, Faddy’s Donuts, and other carnival delicacies for students to enjoy. The cafeteria also had multiple arts & crafts stations where students could design their own license plates, customize frisbees, and add nostalgic touches to their memorabilia. Karaoke and Minute-To-Win-It styled games were also located in the cafeteria as well.
Need a break? The carnival even included a “Zen Room” that has couches and pillows so that students could recharge their bodies as well as their phones.
Located at the end of the cafeteria was an upbeat, club-like area called “Club 2018.” Complete with light-up furniture and a DJ, this space kept the party going through all hours of the night.
Inflatable games lined the main gym as well as a new addition called the “Gladiator” which allowed students to get competitive with one another in an inflatable course that took up nearly all of the small gym.
Students were also invited to take a “walk down Memory Lane,” a hallway filled with pictures of the Class of 2018 throughout the years. Students nostalgically reminisced at the memories that the photos captured of their time at Conard High School.
Safe Grad is well-scripted, and at 2 a.m. students gather in the auditorium for a hypnotist show, followed by the most highly-anticipated event of the evening, the raffle. It’s designed to make sure the grads stay until the end of the event, because you must be present to win.
According to Safe Grad Co-Chair Anne Carroll, at total of 91 prizes were accumulated for this year’s raffle – nearly double what was given away last year. The prizes ranged from dorm essentials, entertainment, fitness, and other categories to include everyone’s different interests and post-graduation plans. The committee raised more than $40,000, and spent virtually all of it, Carroll said.
With the exception of the 10 grand prizes – which included Southwest Airlines vouchers, Red Sox Tickets, GoPros, and televisions – the winners were able to choose their own prizes based on their interests.
At 5 a.m. the graduates were given a bagel for the road, and gifted with well-wishes as they officially left the halls of Conard High School not as students, but as proud alumni.
[Editor’s Note: Most of the photos below were taken prior to graduation. We-Ha.com does not typically attend the Safe Grad celebration, but photographer Hunter Marotto, who is a Conard students, was permitted to attend and his photos can be found below.
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