by Jim Boyle
For 27 years, Elk River High School graduates have been treated to an all-night graduation party before they scatter to the four winds.
Starting this year, there will be fund-raiser for the annual event that could help bring past Elk River graduates back together again for a day of fun.
Organizers of this year’s party are hosting the first 5K run and walk to help support events students have come to cherish. The event is open to the general public.
Tyler Hemmesch, a 2007 Elk River High School graduate who’s now a grad party supporter, is thrilled with the idea. He remembers the hustle and bustle of his senior year as a time filled with tasks leading up to the big night.
The all-night party was something to look forward to and not worry about all the details surrounding it.
“It was a final hurrah to the closing of a chapter in our life, and the beginning of a new one,” said Hemmesch, who has completed his schooling and now has a couple of his own businesses in the area. “That night was a lot of fun.”
He’s giving back in terms of time and treasure. The insurance salesman with Elk Agency Insurance Services in Rogers and an owner of a rental business will donate tables and chairs for the graduation party.
He won’t be able to make the 5K but he’s certain his family, friends and his fiancée will. He has plans to be in Iowa for the U.S. Olympic Wrestling Trials.
“I wish I could be there,” he said. “It’s a first-year event, so I hope for the best. It might take a couple years to take off, but I see it as a great event in the making.”
The all-night grad party has been supplied by the community and parents. Students load busses after commencement ceremonies and enjoy an evening of activities, games and prizes. It’s a chemical-free event.
“That’s reassuring, knowing my student can celebrate his achievements without fear that he will be put in a compromising position,” said Kim Berger, who will see her third and final child graduate from Elk River this year.
There is a cost for the party, but there are scholarships for those who cannot afford to attend. Information on how to obtain a scholarship for the event are found on www.ergradnight.com.
Hemmesch still remembers the gathering nearly five years later.
“It was great to spend time with fellow classmates outside of school for an evening,” he recalls. “It was a great time for me personally to reflect on the past four year of high school, and the memories that we all shared together. To this day, looking back at those years, it is definitely a memory that stands out.”
Elk River grad party 5K run/walk:
When: Wednesday, April 21
Where: Lake Itasca Trail in Ramsey
Advance registration: Sign up at www.ergradnight.com.