Education feature: Cat Grad Night organizers planning to up ante

By Liliana Castillo: CNJ staff writer

A group of community members are working to provide Clovis High School graduates “one last hurrah” for the second year.

Not just any last hurrah. A safe one.

Cat Grad Night is a lock-in event that provides graduates with a safe, chaperoned environment in which to celebrate.

Event organizer Cindy Wall said she got the idea for the event from similar happenings in Hobbs and Carlsbad.

Volunteers are working to raise money for the event. Wall said some money is raised by fundraisers but most is furnished by sponsorships from local businesses.

Cat Grad Night achieved 501c status over the summer so donations from businesses are tax deductible.

Last year’s event featured card games including blackjack and poker, a disk jockey, dance floor, plinko, ping pong, pool and a Guitar Hero tournament. Prizes were raffled off during the evening, but prizes couldn’t be picked up until the event ended.

Wall said prizes will handed out in the same way this year.

Wall said the committee planning the event is hoping for a bigger, better event this year.

“The more we have donated, the more prizes we can give out and the more entertainment we can have,” Wall said.

Some 86 of the almost 350 high school graduates in 2008 attended the event last year. Wall said the students who attended had fun, but she said the event will become more fun if more people attend.

The event was held at K-otic last year, and Wall said they are talking with the building’s owner to hold it there again.

Wall said last year the event was exclusive to seniors, but seniors will be able to bring a guest this year.

Admission is free for seniors and $10 for their guest.

“We’re giving them a better choice to celebrate,” Wall said. “We want them to know you can have fun, be entertained and make memories and be sober.”

Mandy Ratledge, a teacher at James Bickley Elementary, worked the event last year.

“It was a good time for all that attended,” Ratledge said. “If more kids come, I think it would be phenomenal.”

Ratledge said she hopes the event becomes a staple for high school graduates.

“It could turn out to be a really memorable night where you celebrate and have fun with the people that are close to you. It’s something once you get older that you look back on with fond memories,” Ratledge said.

Ratledge said her daughter, a junior at CHS, can’t wait for her turn to attend the event.

Fundraisers include t-shirt, candles, window stickers, wall decoration and school event calendar sales.