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Seniors Pick Up Yearbooks, Sober Grad Night Gift Cards
Taking a moment to look through this year’s edition of the Escalon High School Yearbook are Editor Taylor Ewing, left, and Advisor Erin Headley, on hand for the Monday morning, July 27 distribution of the 2020 edition. Marg Jackson/The Times

After keeping some vendors on hold for the past few months, the Escalon High School Sober Grad Committee has had to pull the plug on their event.

Once in-person graduation ceremonies –planned for this week – had to be scrapped due to the rise in coronavirus cases, committee members knew there was no way possible to host the end of the year Sober Grad party for the Class of 2020.

“Some vendors were able to refund our money, some may just roll over to next year,” said committee member Tracy Gaffney.

The fundraising for the annual senior night event did go on as scheduled during the early part of the school year and also included a successful January, 2020 drive-thru tri tip dinner, which brings in a good share of the money used to put on the festivities.

“If we have to do two tri-tip dinners next year, we will,” Gaffney said, noting that businesses that have donated generously to the Sober Grad Night in the past might not be in the same position economically in 2021 to do so. The committee will look for new and innovative ways to fundraise, in order to keep the Sober Grad party intact.

“The money that we did raise, we will split it up between 174 kids,” Gaffney explained.

Every graduating senior was to receive a $75 Target gift card, she said, with the cards handed out during the recent ‘drive-thru’ yearbook pick-up at the high school, hosted Monday and Tuesday, July 27 and 28. There was a ‘seniors only’ hour from 8 a.m. to 9 a.m. each day for the distribution.

“But they missed out on fun with their friends, they missed out on a lot of prizes,” Gaffney said of the classmates not having the chance to share that graduation night party to make one final night of Escalon memories.

“It was depressing,” she admitted of having to cancel the event, even more so considering that Gaffney’s twin daughters were graduating with the Class of 2020. “It was finally my girls’ class this year.”

But each student can use the gift card, she said, “college bound or not” for whatever they choose. And the committee is eager to get back on track for 2021.

“We will continue to fundraise for next year,” she explained.

Among the committee members this year, along with Gaffney, were Krysten Lial, Lisa McCune, Jessica Rozevink, April Adams, Melanie McPherrin, Renee Snow, Jackie Wentzell and Lori Ring.

The line of cars motoring in to the main parking lot at Escalon High School was steady on Monday morning, the first day of the yearbook/gift card distribution. The first hour was set aside for the seniors, with underclassmen coming in later to pick up their yearbooks.

“I really credit my editor, Taylor Ewing, and all the kids did a great job,” said Yearbook Advisor Erin Headley, given the circumstances and the difficulties in putting together a product while contending with social distancing and many activities being cancelled.

“We ended up with a blank spread (in the yearbook) because of things that were cancelled,” Headley said, including prom and almost the entire spring sports season. “We had to use some group shots for some sports but we also had parents that had taken pictures that helped us out.”

Headley said the ‘Every 15 Minutes’ program –which was staged on the last two days of school in March before campuses were shut down – was expanded to a larger spread in this year’s edition of the yearbook as well.

“And it was the 100-year anniversary issue,” Headley said. “Overall I’m really happy with it.”

For her part, Ewing said it was a memorable year and though it was difficult to navigate through completing the yearbook without being able to meet with her yearbook staff in person, she, too, is satisfied with what she and the team were able to accomplish.

“A lot of pages had to be changed at the last minute, I did a COVID page, it was a lot of phone conversations … trying to do everything remotely,” Ewing, who will be a senior this year, said. “I am very happy with the overall product.”

This school year marked the centennial of Escalon High School and a special section in the yearbook pays homage to that fact, with stories from former students and a brief history of the school. Marg Jackson/The Times
Sober Grad committee members Lisa McCune, foreground, and Tracy Gaffney helped present gift certificates to each graduating senior at Escalon High School, in lieu of them having the chance to celebrate at the traditional Sober Grad Night event. Marg Jackson/The Times