Grad Nite canceled again at Disneyland

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Image used with permission from Boris Dzhingarov under CC BY 2.0.

Disneyland’s iconic Main Street, U.S.A has welcomed previous senior classes for Grad Nite but for the second year in a row, the once-a-year event has been canceled.

Katie Lee

Although the Disneyland Resort has canceled Grad Nite for a second consecutive year because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Sunny Hills Parent Teacher Student Association [PTSA] will look for another venue for the Class of 2021 to celebrate seniors’ graduation next May.

“We unfortunately received notice … directly from Disneyland that Grad Nite has been canceled for this coming year,” said PTSA Grad Nite committee chairwoman Nivie Jhawar, who was referring to an email that the Resort sent on Nov. 13.

Jhawar said her committee will review California’s coronavirus health and safety regulations to figure out what other activity the seniors can participate in. It will also reach out to seniors to get input from them.

The uncertainty over the spread of COVID-19 next year as well as how soon a coronavirus vaccine will be available for students are additional obstacles that the PTSA Grad Nite committee faces, she said.

“The committee is going to revisit the topic in January as soon as school resumes,” Jhawar said. “We are hoping that by then, we will have a better idea as to how the COVID situation looks and can move forward with some type of plan.”

One thing for sure that the committee will work toward is to avoid having to split up the senior class into cohorts similar to how students in hybrid learning have been divided into three different groups.

“I think it would be harder to coordinate [because] the whole idea behind Grad Nite is that the seniors get to celebrate together as a class,” Jhawar said. “We will try to keep that part of the celebration intact as much as possible.”

The committee hopes to have everything figured out by March and plans on emailing seniors an update.

A majority of seniors who heard the news from either teachers or friends are upset that Grad Nite will not take place at Disneyland, as this is an annual event that they have been looking forward to for a while.

“Grad Nite has always been at Disneyland where students can have fun, but if that gets taken away, it’s just depressing,” senior Kirstyn Kim said. “If it gets [moved] to a different location, it won’t feel the same.”

Some say they do not mind paying money for another venue.

“If there’s something worth making up for it, I’ll go,” senior Dominic Elisaldez said. “Paying for the venue depends on what it is.”

Some seniors suggested the PTSA should look into other amusement parks such as Knott’s Berry Farm in Buena Park or Universal Studios or Six Flags Magic Mountain in Los Angeles County or Lego Land in San Diego.

“We were talking about having a drivein movie within the senior cabinet,” senior Kathryn Aurelio said. “Similar to the dance department’s ‘Dancing Under the Stars.’”

Many also acknowledged that the safety of people should be prioritized.

“I’d be upset at first if it’s ultimately canceled, but I’d rather protect my health than have fun and get myself or my family sick,” senior Amaya Mitchell said.

While the “Happiest Place on Earth” is no longer an option for the PTSA, Jhawar remains optimistic about Grad Nite in May for the Class of 2021.

“Hopefully, we will be in a better place by then and will not have to divide the class up, but it’s too early to know for sure,” she said. “A lot can change by May 2021.”

This story originally appeared in the Dec. 14 print issue, which can be read here.