Breaking from tradition, organizers of the 2020 Senior Class Graduation Party have set the last day of school as the lock-in party date rather than Cody High School’s graduation night.
Since the first after-graduation party in 2005, the community has supported the parent-run activity to provide seniors a safe place to stay alcohol- and drug-free the night of graduation.
The lock-in style party, scheduled 9 p.m.-2 a.m. at the Cody Rec Center this year, is open to graduating seniors from CHS and Heart Mountain Academy.
Students are treated to entertainment, food and, for those who stay until the end, prizes. Anyone who leaves is not allowed to re-enter the celebration.
While the party date coincides with Heart Mountain’s graduation May 28 at 6 p.m., it precedes the 2 p.m. May 31 CHS commencement by three days.
The school does not sponsor the party. Parent volunteers do all planning, gather donations and work the night of the party. The parents of 2020 graduates are planning for 154 attendees. In addition to parent chaperones, one rec center employee will be on-site.
The City of Cody has typically sponsored use of the building. On Feb. 4 the council approved transferring $830 from the council contingency fund to cover use of the gym, multipurpose room, hallway, racquetball court and front desk help.
Attending the council meeting, committee co-chair Sharyn Polley said the “tentative” date is May 28, the last day of school.
This year parents decided to stray from the traditional after-graduation night for several reasons. Graduation is on a Sunday and many families have guests in town for the ceremony, she said. Plus, graduates who want to attend a registration-orientation at the University of Wyoming in Laramie the following Monday, June 1, could not attend the party.
Another reason for the date change shared on the event Facebook page says many students will start summer jobs that Monday.
Polley estimated the party cost at $20,000-$30,000.
She said this year it is partially funded by proceeds from a student investment program many of the graduates contributed to as middle school students.
A Feb. 4 letter to parents from the 2020 Senior Class Party Committee lists other revenue sources as the CHS senior class account, the annual Coldwell Banker Antlers Realty clay shoot fundraiser and donations from the community.
Cody’s first graduation party included valuable prizes
Cody’s first after-graduation party on May 22, 2005, started on a Sunday night and continued until early Monday morning when a 2004 Dodge Neon, a furniture set hand-crafted by Cody artisans, a bicycle and many more prizes were awarded.
Parent organizers emphasized the “Night to Remember” was to provide an alcohol-free, safe and fun gathering as an alternate to the Cody High School grads traditional post-graduation keg party.
The May 18, 2005, Enterprise reported 106 of 207 CHS graduates attended the lock-down party at the Cody Rec Center where parents decorated to simulate a New York City skyline with Empire State building and Statue of Liberty.
Graduates were treated to games, live music, food, hypnotist, handwriting analyst, climbing wall, karaoke, mechanical bull and inflatables in the Rec Center and Riley Arena. Pool activities in the aquatic center included diving for coins. After they were bused to a 4 a.m. breakfast at the Sunset House, the grads returned to the rec center for prize drawings at 5:15.
At the time, Jill Siggins, parent organizer, described the community response was overwhelming. People appreciated the effort to keep Cody’s young adults safe, she said.
The party was valued at $50,000 in monetary and in-kind donations.
“We’re ready to pass this on to the parents of 2006,” Siggins said. “We hope they carry on.”
Parents have now diligently carried forth the alcohol-free party tradition for 15 years; however, the lock-in party has been pared back in terms of activities, cost and hours.