Who says bingo has to be all about competition?

While Bret Harte and Calaveras high schools have always had a healthy rivalry, supporters of the two schools came together for a common cause during Mega Bingo Ladies Night Out on Jan. 25.

The event took place at the Mark Twain Hall at Frogtown and was hosted by the Grad Night Foundation of Calaveras County in order to raise funds for each school’s individual Sober Grad Night event.

“In years past, each Grad Night committee for the prospective high school has had a separate bingo fundraiser, which has always been successful but can seem to cause division to see who will have the bigger fundraiser,” Bret Harte Grad Night Committee Chairwoman Stacy Simpson said. “That is not what our goal is. We want our students and our community to see how unifying this fundraiser is.”

Simpson said that this year’s event was a huge success. Almost 500 ladies attended, and more than $25,000 was raised, to be shared equally between the Grad Night committees for each school.

“This was more than we expected and left us filled with such happiness to feel and see the overwhelming support of the community for the Class of 2020,” Simpson said. “I think it is amazing that we happened to host this event on the week of ‘rivalry week,’ showing that we are rivals on the court, but loved as one throughout the community.”

While most of the money was raised through ticket sales, local businesses and individual members of the community also sponsored the event.

“We had over 30 event sponsors for our event in addition to the ticket sales,” Simpson said. “Just over $5,000 came from event sponsors.”

Simpson said that she would like to see more events between the schools and between the organizations that support them in the coming years.

“This fundraiser was a huge testament to our students and the community of unity,” she said. “It is difficult for the community to donate monies and services when each school and many other entities are soliciting donations. By joining efforts, it helps cut down on the request, but more importantly, brings the families and community members together to recognize all the graduates of both high schools.”

The foundation plans on holding the event jointly again next year, Simpson said.

“Our goal is to make this event the main fundraiser for the Grad Night of Calaveras County Foundation,” she said. “We had a lot to learn this year by combining our efforts and coordinating what ended up being a huge event. Next year will only be better and more successful.”

The Grad Night Foundation of Calaveras County was formed in order to provide both sober and fun graduation parties for graduating high school students.

“Since 1989, Calaveras County has not had a single alcohol- or drug-related high school graduation tragedy,” she said. “The school does not put on the party. It is an all-volunteer group using 100% donations and fundraising.”

A lot of work goes into holding the graduation events each year, Simpson said.

“Each school goes to great lengths enlisting numerous volunteers to create a memorable evening for the graduates and their guests,” Simpson said. “At grad night, we transform the schools into an adult playground, filled with games, prizes, activities, endless amounts of food and special gifts just for each senior that attends.”

Simpson said that the foundation is still looking for volunteers for the Grad Night events.

“We are always in need for Grad Night,” she said. “It takes a lot of volunteers to make each event successful.”

Those interested in volunteering can contact the Calaveras High Grad Night Committee at calaverasgradnight@gmail.com, or the Bret Harte High Grad Night Committee at bhgradnight@gmail.com.

For more information, visit the Grad Night Foundation of Calaveras County’s website at ccgrad.org.



Noah Berner has lived in Calaveras County most of his life, and graduated from University of California, Santa Cruz with a degree in history.

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