Local Commentary

Guest Commentary: Keeping Our Seniors & Community Safe for 27 Years

By Julie Donnelly

If you’re the parent of a high school senior or a graduate, you already know the days are long and the years are short. If your children are younger, you’ll be shocked at just how fleeting these school days become the closer you get to graduation day. Truly, in the blink of an eye, those little kids are seniors.

That’s why I ask for the entire Falls Church community’s help in supporting a 27-year Falls Church City tradition: the All Night Graduation Celebration.

Every year, the All Night Graduation Celebration, or ANGC, takes place inside George Mason High School following the graduation ceremony at Constitution Hall, starting at 11 p.m. The new grads shed their caps and gowns to reconvene with their classmates for a last hurrah inside their new alma mater. Featuring prizes, food, games and entertainment through the wee hours of the morning, it’s a celebration our graduating seniors never forget.

We’re so pleased to provide this special send-off to our seniors, but we want the Falls Church community to understand that the ANGC is much more than just a party. It’s a safe alternative to typical “grad nite” fetes that may include alcohol, drugs, driving between multiple locations, and other unsafe behavior. Here are some sobering statistics: According to recent data from Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), dates in May and June – when graduations typically occur – are among the seven deadliest nights for teen alcohol-related accidents. In 27 years of running the ANGC, our Falls Church City community has not had a single alcohol- or drug-related death or injury on graduation night.

Certainly the numbers above share an important message, but if you aren’t the parent of one of this year’s seniors, you may wonder why should the ANGC matter to you at this time. Quite simply, our small, close-knit Falls Church community has always supported the ANGC. Remember, our George Mason High School seniors are your neighbors, your friends’ kids, your babysitters, the athletes you see on our playing field, the musicians and performers you enjoy on stage, and the role models younger children look up to. Donating to the ANGC is one way you can recognize how members of the class of 2016 have positively impacted our community.

By supporting the 2016 ANGC with a financial donation, you’re playing a part in keeping our community safe. You’re also helping to ensure the tradition endures for Mason grads now and in the future … even if that future seems hard to picture today. A donation of any size can make a big difference toward ensuring the success this year’s event as well as the continuation of the ANGC for all subsequent graduating classes.

A committee of the George Mason PTSA began planning the Class of 2016’s ANGC as soon as the 2015 celebration ended. Since last June, these Mason volunteers – almost all parents of underclassmen – have dedicated countless hours to booking entertainment, planning fundraising events and community outreach. With the new year comes even more preparation, which is why we are asking now for your financial help.

We realize that at this time of year you receive many requests for help, and we hope that after learning about ANGC that you’ll agree it’s a cause worthy of widespread community support. Looking for a way to personalize your ANGC donation? Think about your own children as you consider a donation amount. For example, are they ages 7 and 8? You could donate $15 in honor of their combined ages. Are you the parent of a member of the class of 2025? Consider donating $25 this year. Did your 11th-grader score 30 on the ACT? Commemorate that achievement with a $30 donation.
To donate securely online, please visit www.georgemasonhighptsa.org/all-night-grad.html, and scroll down to the PayPal “Donate” button near the bottom of the page.

We also hope you’ll follow our planning progress on Facebook at facebook.com/angc2016 and Twitter at twitter.com/GMHS_ANGC for fundraising updates, donor recognition, upcoming events in the community, and, ultimately, footage of the event itself in June.

On behalf of the entire ANGC committee, thank you in advance for helping to keep this important event going in 2016, and beyond!


Julie Donnelly is the 2016 chair of the All Night Graduation Celebration.