There are two nights in a child's life when parents wait up anxiously for their children to return home.
Ironically, both of them are times that create lasting, wonderful memories for the child -- prom and graduation. Unfortunately, a diploma of academic achievement does not automatically carry with it a certificate of common sense.
Prom and graduation nights have proven to be among the most deadly for high school students across the United States.
While parents can only rely on the vigilance of law enforcement and the good judgment of their children for Saturday's Junior Prom, they can be proactive about graduation night on May 25.
This year, for what appears to be the first time in recent local history, parents, business owners, educators and town officials have teamed up to create an all-night, alcohol- and drug-free event.
Event organizer Eileen Daniels and other parents involved in this effort are concerned about what appears to be a growing trend of dangerous youth behavior in Payson.
"It's really scary," Daniels said. "When I was in high school it was beer parties. But now it's hard liquor, and that's very scary. You hear the same old story over and over -- we're in a small town and there's nothing for the youth to do. But young people need to know (there are) things to do that are fun that won't cost them their lives. At an event like this, they can have fun, meet people, and they are all going to be there on the same level and for the same reasons."
Attending the party requires a signed agreement between parent and child. The agreement is essentially a promise from the student to not be under the influence of alcohol or drugs before or during the all-night event.
The party will be held at the Tonto Apache Gym on graduation night, Thursday, May 25. It runs from 10:30 p.m. to 5 a.m. Activities include a bucking bull ride, big-suit sumo wrestling, inflatable jousting, bungee run, giant-glove boxing, ping-pong, foosball and a "Fear Factor" competition that is sure to be competitive.
There will be raffles for prizes through the evening, including big ticket items like a television, a notebook computer, digital camera, a motorized scooter and much more -- all donated by local businesses and individuals.
On page 10A of this edition, you'll find a copy of the registration form and more event information. We encourage parents and their children who are graduating to complete the form and register by Monday, May 1.
This agreement between parent and child could be the difference between the end of a life, and a lifetime of memories.
For more information, contact Eileen Daniels at (928) 474-6645, or Chris Schwind at (928) 472-7096.