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Grad Nite

Los Al
June 11, 2015

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We chose the props and decorating committee of Grad Nite as our place to get involved in Ellie's new school. We liked the idea of working with other parents to transform the school into a set, a different place for one night. It reminded us of the Madrigal show at their old high school, Montgomery, where we worked with a team of parents to transform the cafeteria into a Renaissance dining hall.

And it was a lot of fun, and a lot of work. The two women who ran the whole thing were great to work with, and they had done this for a lot of years, as their kids went through the school. We spent months getting props ready: painting, repairing and ordering the big props -- animals! mannequins! a jeep! -- from a professional prop shop. We were amazed at the size of the budget, coming from a poorer school where the teachers begged for boxes of Kleenex at Back-to-School Night.

The final weekend was intense: all-day sessions setting up the props, leading teams of volunteers to hang the camouflage to disguise the buildings, putting everything into place. And then the night! Grad Night ran until 2 in the morning, and by the time we had things packed up and on trucks back to vendors, it was about 7 in the morning.

We were lucky to catch Grad Nite at the end of its long run of parent participation. A new team of leaders took over after that year, women who had never helped set it up the old way. They put up with it for one more year, a Pirate-themed night in 2016. But after that, they moved into the 21st century: they hired a party planning company and moved Grad Nite to an offsite location. Modern moms and dads just aren't as into building props and placing them with their own hands and backs and muscles. Aren't there immigrants who can do this better and faster?