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Grad Night Blow-Outs


With diplomas crisp in their holders and the last words of valedictorians still hanging in the air, thousands of North County high school seniors will soon celebrate their new status as graduates.

On graduation night--June 13 or 20 for most--many will be attending all-night, school-sponsored events ranging from cruises to elaborate theme parties designed to be alcohol- and drug-free.

Some will be climbing aboard buses to Disneyland, where they will have after-hours access to the park.

Parent volunteers at some schools have spent months preparing for on-site celebrations that have been structured for safety as well as fun. The parents of the students attending have agreed that they will be notified by party chaperones if their child leaves the party before its conclusion--usually about 5 a.m.

The party organizers have lined up community support, raised funds, made decorations and booked entertainment. In some cases, the budgets for the evening are more than $25,000.

The parties, designed just for seniors, don't allow guests from other grade levels or schools.

Here's some of what's planned for graduation night:

* "Hollywood: Lights, Camera, Action!" is the theme of San Pasqual High School's party beginning at 9:30 p.m. June 13. The school gymnasium will be set up as a Hollywood sound stage, featuring several rooms, each decorated as if the senior is walking into a movie set in progress.

A Casablanca-style casino, a Hard Rock Cafe dance area with a video jockey shooting the live action, a projection room for movie viewing, a nightclub with Karaoke singing, and an outdoor coffeehouse with espresso and a folk singer are some of the events planned for the 350 graduating seniors.

* Mt. Carmel's "Back to the Future" party for 700 seniors begins at 9 p.m. June 13 at the Rancho Penasquitos school. Until 5:30 a.m. the next day, the grads will have a chance to visit gaming tables, be hypnotized, dance, eat and celebrate.

* Poway High School's 480 seniors will be offered a taste of the Caribbean on June 20. Tiki torches and fishing nets will provide a backdrop for the gaming tables, music and dancing, video lounge and all-night food fest.

* "The Greatest Show on Earth" is San Dieguito High's theme for its 525 seniors. The gymnasium, cafeteria and connecting courtyard will be converted to a big top circus. Carnival and video games, dancing, strolling photographers will be part of the festivities June 15 from 9 p.m. to 5 a.m. the next day.

* Torrey Pines will put together a Wild West night for its more than 400 grads. On June 13, the gym will take on the look of a country fair, but more urban trappings such as videos and a big-screen television for movies will also be offered. Grads can stuff themselves on pizza, hot dogs, hamburgers, chili and yogurt. Winners of casino and carnival games will receive prizes donated by community merchants, including coupons for haircuts, lunches and gasoline.

* About 300 seniors at Escondido High School will have the chance to dance, eat and try their hand at casino-style tables aboard a San Diego Harbor Cruise, starting at 10 p.m. June 13.

* The 417 seniors of Orange Glen High School will cruise San Diego Bay beginning at 11 p.m. June 13. A magician, disc jockey, live band, games and unlimited food are expected to keep the party hopping until it winds down around 4 a.m.

* Some high schools, including Carlsbad, Fallbrook Union, El Camino, Ramona and Vista have opted to continue the tradition of a trip to Disneyland after graduation ceremonies.

Busloads of grads usually arrive at the Magic Kingdom about 11 p.m., and the grads have free reign over the park until 5 a.m. Graduating classes from a number of high schools throughout Southern California converge on the park on graduation nights in June.

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