BY NATHAN DELGADO
Los Alamos High School Alumnus
When I first heard about Senior Appreciation Night (SAN), I didn’t know what to expect. Could Los Alamos do anything exciting? But there wasn’t much else to do on the final weekend of the school year. And it seemed like every other student was going to be there. After arriving, any doubts I had quickly dissipated. After over thirty years of SAN, the intrepid group running the show has figured out a winning formula.
As a 2016 LAHS graduate who enjoyed the heck out of my Senior Appreciation Night, I’m writing today to encourage the community to support the event and keep the long-running tradition alive for years to come.
I recall an action-packed evening—part scavenger hunt, part mini-game competition—full of great food and greater friends. I was amazed by SAN’s capacity to unite what felt like the entire town. Volunteers young and old, businesses small and large, cooperating in the effort to throw a send off party for their departing high schoolers. There was something for everyone. A BBQ at Fuller Lodge to kick it off, live animals at PEEC, a fashion show, trivia, board games, a midnight movie at the late Reel Deal, and a pre-sunrise pancake breakfast by Kiwanis to wrap it all up. My favorite was the fake money. Many activities awarded pretend cash to spend at the auction towards the end of the night. The auction was raucous. It pitted group against group, friend against friend, in a jovial, yet cutthroat, fight for prizes like gift cards and Bluetooth speakers. I had a blast brokering unlikely alliances and cutting deals with peers to get a shot at the coolest gear.
More than just games and the chance to safely explore Los Alamos in the middle of the night, SAN deepens existing connections and launches new ones. School friend groups mature over time and by senior year, cohorts are pretty insular. The large, diverse classes required in the early stages of high school are over, and students start narrowing into their interests. Senior Appreciation Night upends the pattern and throws everyone together. Though Seniors are the official invitees, each can bring along a guest, further broadening the range of students represented. I remember showing up with my close friends and by the end of the night running into acquaintances I hadn’t spoken to since freshman year.
After two tough years with no SAN, 2022 is an opportunity to bring back the festivities better than ever. Like the rest of the world, Los Alamos has changed. Businesses have closed, much of life has shifted online, and yet our school system continues to produce stellar graduates who deserve the recognition and fun their predecessors enjoyed. SAN represents the best of the activities and values we’ve all missed out on. Celebration of accomplishments, community unification, and meaningful in-person interactions are at the heart of Senior Appreciation Night.
I’ve given a small donation and hope you will consider helping out as well. Next time I’m in town around graduation, I’d love to volunteer. Maybe I can be auctioneer.
Senior Appreciation Night is run by folks from the YMCA and Los Alamos County and a small team of volunteers. It is paid for by donations from parents, community members, and local businesses.
Donations can be made via PayPal: https://www.paypal.com/paypalme/SANLA505
Or a check can be written to “The Family YMCA” with “SAN” in the memo line (the Y acts as the fiscal agent for SAN donations and purchases of supplies). The checks can be dropped off at the Y or mailed to:
The Family YMCA – Attn: SAN
1450 Iris St.
Los Alamos NM 87544
If folks want to volunteer to help with the event they should e-mail Diana Martinez at the Y – firstname.lastname@example.org