Samohi’s beloved Grad Nite, complete with its faux cruise ship, returned to the City By the Sea this year.
The annual post-graduation celebration was scuttled due to COVID-19 for the past two years, but thanks to the hard work of more than a hundred volunteers, Grad Nite set sail again in 2022.
“It was amazing to see the kids’ faces, and they seemed so happy and that made us happy that they were excited to be at the event—to be together again after two years of what we’ve all been through,” said volunteer Nicole Faries.
Grad Nite offers recent graduates a safe space to celebrate their achievements. Students enter through the boat façade, receive a “boarding pass” to their destination and then partake in casino games, food, dancing, carnival games, and inflatables.
“We were just really happy to be able to do something really special for the kids again; that made us really happy,” said Faries.
It takes several weeks to construct the event with volunteers working long hours to put everything together.
“That façade was redesigned and we had somebody who helped us with that and it really still looks like you’re getting onto a cruise ship,” she said. “There were teachers who gave up their time after graduation, including coaches who checked kids in, and it was so warm and touching to see them come into the area where they get their boarding passes and hear an eruption of cheers and congratulations.”
She said a host of sponsors including Smart & Final, SMPD, Elks, Kiwanis, City of Santa Monica and Bill Wishart of Running With Speakers helped provide a fantastic experience for the 517 students who participated.
“We want to convey that we’re really happy to have the community come together to support Grad Nite,” she said. “And if anyone wants to get involved, they can. They just have to reach out.”