The main entrance hall of Conard High School in West Hartford was transformed into a circus carnival on Thursday night for the school’s annual substance-free Safe Grad event.
By Lauren Cohen. Photos by Hunter Marotto
Just a few hours after graduation, the brand new Conard High School alumni entered what would have been previously recognized as their high school’s lobby, but was now disguised as a circus carnival.
A juggler met them at the door when they arrived to sign in, and circus music and bubbles drifted through the tarps covering the entrance.
Carnival games lined the front hallways, bright and shiny with the promise of fun … and prizes! Almost all of the games had $5 and $10 gift cards available for winners.
The big gym was filled with bounce houses – some obstacle-course style – including a “Wipeout” game – and a “money chamber” replenished with a chunk of money every hour.
The small gym featured e a free-throw contest and a cornhole tournament.
The cafeteria was completely transformed into a candy wonderland, with this year’s food theme being candy. Graduates could stop in and snack on some sweets any time they wanted throughout the night. The action-packed event, which ran from 10 p.m. to 4 a.m., definitely required some sugar!
Also in the Caf was a black-light dance party with a real DJ, Minute-To-Win-It games, and arts and crafts stations.
Alcoves in the main hallway were turned into comfortable spots for graduates to chill out and relax.
The Conard “Cash Cab” was in action all night long at the end of the main hallway, with cash up for grabs to students participating in the trivia game.
There was also a hypnotist late into the night, a fan-favorite from past years.
Throughout the premises there were plenty of “photo-ops,” because the planning committee knew that the graduates would want to document this night to be able to remember the blast they had with their graduating class.
The decorating committee began planning the event in February, and although some setbacks had them “a little bit more pressed for time,” they did not fail to impress with the miraculous circus they created in the lobby of Conard High School. They incorporated many of the games and decorations from last year’s carnival theme, and then brought in new ideas as well to bring the circus theme to life.
Not only were there small prizes for the carnival games and trivia, but as Pamela Henderson, co-decorating chair for the Safe Grad Committee said, “Everybody should walk out of the school with at least a couple of prizes at the end of the event.”
“Kids absolutely loved it” last year, with all of the carnival games and tricks, said Henderson, and it was something that gave kids “more of an opportunity to play games that weren’t necessarily sporty” like the more strenuous in-the-moment games happening in the two gyms.
The decorating committee wasn’t the only way that parents could get involved with Safe Grad. Henderson said that 50-60 parents would be on-deck helping out on Thursday night, as well as some dedicated Conard staff.
The night (or early morning) ended with a raffle for which “over 6,000 was spent on prizes,” Henderson said, including an Apple watch, plenty of TVs, AirPods, Keurigs, and tons of other dorm stuff. Almost every graduate was guaranteed to win at least one prize Thursday night – an excellent reward for graduating!
Graduates would arrive at a place where they could definitely have an absolute ball after graduation, celebrating the past four years with their classmates. Hopefully they could sleep in on Friday morning!
Congratulations again, grads! You earned it.
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