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A safe - and fun - way to celebrate

by MAUREEN DOLAN
Staff Writer | June 12, 2010 9:00 PM

COEUR d'ALENE - Many of the area's new high school grads choose to spend their first night of K-12 liberation together, partying the night away at drug- and alcohol-free parties coordinated by parent volunteers.

"I feel really strongly that it's just a really safe way for them to end their school year," said Debbie Costa, one of the organizers of Coeur d'Alene High School's senior party that took place Friday at the Kroc Center.

Costa said she and her daughter feel it's important to offer high school students an alternative to parties where they may feel pressured to drink.

Kootenai County Sheriff's Lt. Stu Miller said his agency encourages students to go to one of the organized parties.

"It's a lot safer than going out and getting themselves hurt or making bad decisions once they're under the influence of alcohol," Miller said.

Law enforcement officers are always on the lookout for teen drinking parties, Miller said, but that's not all they're looking for.

"We're really trying to focus on not only the kids who are drinking and where they're doing it, but on where they're getting alcohol," Miller said.

Timberlake High School students were at Triple Play on Friday, and Lakeland High grads did the same on Thursday. Post Falls High School graduates will be at Triple Play tonight, following their commencement ceremony.

Lake City High School's senior party takes place tonight at the Kroc Center.

The $50 admission tickets are still available and can be purchased at the school following graduation from 8 to 9 p.m. and at the door of the Kroc until 9:30 p.m., but no later.

"Once in, they are in for the night," said LCHS parent volunteer, Ann Siebert.

If students do choose to leave, they're not allowed back in.

There are plenty of adult chaperones available to keep an eye on things.

"We have a fantastic group of parents who are committed to creating a special experience for kids while keeping them safe," Siebert said.

The cost to throw each of the Coeur d'Alene parties is nearly $25,000.

Raised by parents through donations and ticket sales, the money pays for the all-night use of the Kroc Center, enough food to keep hungry teens satisfied, entertainment, games and lots of prizes.

"We even have an iPad. That's probably our biggest prize," Siebert said.

Fundraising often begins by parents during their students' freshman year, with the major push before they graduate.

"It's grueling, but the reward is a safe and sane evening," said Mary Larson, a parent volunteer working on the fundraising campaign for Lake City High School's senior party for the Class of 2011. "It's worth every penny if it saves one kid's life."

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