This article was contributed by San Benito High School Communications Manager Adam Breen.
Nearly 400 San Benito High School Class of 2018 graduates attended the volunteer-run and community-supported Sober Grad Night on Friday, June 8. Nearly 250 of the students stayed the night at the event, which was held in O’Donnell Gymnasium and featured food, games, bounce houses, and other activities — all at no charge for students.
Organizer Rick Espino called the event “successful,” as more than $23,000 was raised to support the free event, which is open to all graduates.
“We are only able to do this with great support from the community, local businesses, senior parents, and the school administration," said Espino, a Baler girls’ tennis coach whose children attended SBHS.
The graduation committee allowed Sober Grad Night organizers to sell 300 premium commencement seats for $25 each, which brought in $7,500.
“We also have sponsorship grants from the Monterey Peninsula Foundation, AT&T, the Community Foundation for San Benito County, Pride & Conveyance of Hollister, the Hollister Exchange Club, and more,” Espino said.
Local businesses contributed about $6,000 in monetary donations and another $2,000 to $3,000 in donated goods and services.
“For example,” Espino said, “RJR Recycling provides a dumpster for free, Crown Sanitation provides PortaPotties and wash stations free, Joe Tonascia provides the three light towers that we use to light up the outdoors for free. We get the perimeter fence from JV Orta at a discount, and the high school allows us the use of the facilities at no charge. The senior parents support us by buying into a special senior raffle where they donate $25 per entry. This raffle is separate from the free raffles we do all night and will have less names to draw from.”
This year’s raffle brought in $2,225, the highest amount in five years.
“We rely on volunteers to make all this work,” Espino added. “Parent volunteers work all night in shifts to provide a fun and safe environment. We were able to purchase and give away about $12,000 in prizes — our highest yet! We also provide plenty of food and drinks, most of which is donated to our event.”
San Benito High School District Superintendent Dr. Shawn Tennenbaum said that he, the Board of Trustees, and Principal Adrian Ramirez appreciate the continued generosity and support of Espino and the greater community to ensure a successful, safe event for graduates every year.