Class of 2018 seniors have endured four years of Webster Groves High School, and now they have the opportunity to be locked inside the school overnight as part of a 67 year old school tradition.
The senior lock-in party will be after graduation on May 18.
The Parents Club website describes the night as “all about celebrating our graduating children in a safe and fun way.”
Connie Rhodes, senior, is eager to attend.
“I’m really excited, even if I don’t know how I’m going to stay up until 5:30 the next day. I hope that there is a lot to do to keep me awake, and hopefully I do not fall asleep because that is a possibility,” Rhodes said.
Crystal O’Loughlin, Parents Club member organizing this event, said, “It is sponsored by the Parents Club and is held at the high school. Check in begins at 10:30 p.m., and doors are locked at 11:30 p.m. This is an all night lock in that ends at 5:30 a.m. There will be a lot of activities, including a casino, inflatables, DJ, fire pit and teacher dunking booth.”
A hypnotist will entertain students at 3 a.m. until a hot breakfast is served at 4 a.m.
During the night, students will have the opportunity to win tickets at the casino and enter those tickets in order to win prizes.
“Some prizes are Xbox, Beats wireless headphones, Kate Spade purse, hoverboard, camping gear, TV and more,” O’Loughlin said.
“Our Theme this year is ‘All things St. Louis.’ St Louis food favorites will be served throughout the night,” O’Loughlin said.
The Parents Club is looking for parent volunteers for the event.
“The event is free to attend, and it has been very well attended in the past,” O’Loughlin said.
This will be the 67th annual senior party. The first was held in 1951. Parents started holding the event after two seniors died the night of their graduation.
A 1969 St. Louis Post-Dispatch called it a way “to keep the kids off the streets and out of the joints.”
The parents wanted to stop the all-night drinking and partying and hold a supervised event to protect students.
A 1963 St. Louis Post-Dispatch said, “The affair began at sunset with the awarding of diplomas, ended shortly after dawn with a breakfast.”
Every year, the party is essentially the same, and this year’s event will have a lot of the same aspects that the first parties had.
“Parents would spend all night decorating; they’d give gifts, which you still do; someone would always come and read palms or do tarot cards,” Pat Voss said about senior parties in the past.
Another part of the first parties that has continued throughout the years is that the party is only open to Webster students.
“Originally, you could bring an outside guest, but that only lasted a few years,” according to Voss.
For the most of the party’s history, attendance has been free to students; however, the first party was $10 per student.
Most of these parties were held at Hixson, and students had access to the pool at Webster’s rec center.
The theme of the first was a marine theme, featuring 9,000 balloons that lined the ceilings. The entertainment included “continuous dancing to both conventional and rock ‘n’ roll orchestras and a variety of other diversions,” according to the 1963 Post-Dispatch.
Each year the directors of the party would try to create better decorations than the last.
One exceptional theme was the class of 1969’s riverfront theme, complete with a showboat crafted by a “committee of husbands,” carnival games and numerous old-fashioned shops. One mother painted murals, another made a saloon with a swinging door, bar and popcorn machine. The cafeteria was made to look like a Victorian dining room with two golden and white swans, chandeliers, red wallpaper, antique furniture and balloons.
The parents club works hard to make sure this event is memorable for the graduates year after year, and seniors like Rhodes are excited to attend their last school event.
“I want to go because Webster Groves High School has been my school for the past four years, and it’s the last time I’m going to be there for something where I am a ‘student’ there. In addition, it is going to be the last time I get to do something with my class before we all go our separate ways. Yeah, we can all keep in touch, but it’s not the same,” Rhodes said.
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