Our Community Loves Its Youth: Senior Appreciation Night Decision Not Made Lightly

YMCA Los Alamos Teen Center

As a member of the Senior Appreciation Night Committee I can tell you that the decision not to hold the event was not made lightly.

Senior Appreciation Night is one of the high points of each year for the staff and numerous volunteers who put it on, and no-one, with the obvious exception of the graduating seniors, are more disappointed about this the we are. I have been working on SAN since 2016 and at that I am a relative newcomer on the committee which has members who have been involved for decades. Multiple committee members are parents of seniors graduating this year, so the disappointment hits close to home.

As a community we have a long tradition of putting on this event that has done a great job of helping seniors and their friends make good choices on graduation night. Over the years the committee has refined schedule of activities and selection of prizes to deliver something that really works. As with many other things COVID, and the related restrictions, really threw a wrench in the works.

If you have a desire to discuss all the factors that went into the decision and all the various options we considered, you are welcome to reach out to me at gmarsden@laymca.org

While we are unable to put on a large organized night of activities, that does not mean that as a community we can not put on a bunch of smaller but meaningful events that honor our graduating seniors. I encourage you to reach out to graduating seniors in your world and their families and see what you can put together. If this last 14 months has taught us anything, it is how to improvise and work together in new ways. Small groups throughout the community have the ability to adapt and improvise that is not possible for a larger organized effort with multiple locations, dozens of individuals, numerous businesses and organizations, and all sorts of legal and liability issues to deal with.

My call to you is to come together with the people on your block, the folks you go to church with, the folks you work with, and anyone else you can think of to put on a COVID safe celebration for the kids.

Think about how you can:

⁃ Find the person in your neighborhood with an inflatable screen and projector to put on a backyard movie night or video game competition.

⁃ Talk to that person from work who loves grilling up food for folks.

⁃ Call in that favor from your golf or running buddy to help set up.

⁃ Ask the retired teacher down the street who has that magic touch that gets kids to be goofy and have fun.

⁃ If you are a parent of a senior, get in touch with the parents of your kid’s friends or teammates and pool your resources.

We are only as defeated in this as we let ourselves be in this moment. As for me, on graduation night I will be at the Teen Center with our staff welcoming teens to come in and put their handprint on our wall, as we have done every year since we moved into our current location.

As it has demonstrated over the last 30+ years of graduation night events, this community cares deeply for its youth and nothing about this crazy year has changed that.