Ah, graduation. While school is out and no doubt you are still deprogramming from it all, the grad is no doubt on some of your minds. With the lyrics of Pink Floyd or Alice Cooper anti-school anthems ringing in your head as you walk around with perma-grin on your face, future plans perhaps quietly simmering on the stove top, a great accomplishment behind you. You have every reason to celebrate with that silly grin on your face.

Not long ago, there weren’t many graduates amongst the Cree, but the numbers are increasing every year. And more and more are going on to post secondary education. So heck yeah, pat yerself on the back there, congratulations and best wishes to you!

The big night is still ahead and we have all the tips that you will need to make the day and night a success for all. At my grad, oh so many years ago, I kept waiting for the fun to begin. 1 was searching for it around every corner and under every stone. Next thing I knew, it was over and honestly I missed it, kinda like not being able to see the forest for the trees. So please, don’t make the same mistake. Drink each moment in.

Jamie, a grad from Alabama put it nicely. “Grad is one of the most memorable nights of your life. It’s a special night to spend with your friends and your date. The songs, decorations, and atmosphere will always serve as a remembrance of the happy and carefree days of your adolescence.”

“Prom is not a night to try drugs, alcohol, or sex. It’s a time to join your friends in a celebration that represents who you are, what you stand for, and what you’ve accomplished.”

There seems to be three things that are generally associated with grad: the dress/tux, alcohol, and sex. While not one of these things is actually required for the grad, adolescents will be adoloescents.

Let’s tackle the clothing issue first. While grad is a night to play grownup wearing a fancy gown and makeup and accessories, or a penguin suit, you should feel comfortable as much as possible in your duds. So practice in those high heels for a week beforehand so that there will be no embarrassing falls, and try out that new hairstyle and makeup beforehand so you get it right.

As for hair and makeup, ladies, try to keep it simple. You don’t want to feel like a clown. Accents on your eyes is a good idea, but avoid the whole Tammy Faye-Bakker explosion. Red lips are nice but again, you don’t want to look like a big fashion don’t if it doesn’t go with your colouring or the rest of your makeup.

The fashions have changed and gone are big bows and long sleeves. Strapless gowns and boustiers are big in the whole array of colours and pastels. Your basic black and white or red is always a winner too. You can have your dress made, which may cut down on the costs. The stores in Chibougamau and Val d’Or have a pretty wide selection. You can even check out the Internet for ideas. Prices range from $60 to over $300. Tip: let your date know what colour you are wearing so that he can perhaps get a complementing tie and cumberbund if he is going the tux route.

Boys, you have some choices too. Renting a tux is convenient and practical. You can go for tails or pin stripes, paislies or bold colours as accents. If you decide to buy a suit, it can be used for future dressy functions as well. You can rent from stores in Chibougamau and Val d’Or with prices starting at $60 and up. Tip: Keep in mind what colour your date is wearing and the two of you will go together like bread and p-nut-butta baby!

Planning the night: will there be a little pre-party before with just the chikeetas or just the boyz or will all be involved? A lazy party afterwards or a rocking dancing allnighter of a thing? Don’t leave it all up to chance, a little planning can go a long way. It’s nice to get together to reminisce about the years gone by, the struggles, the joy, the fun, it’s all good!

In Montreal, our school had the traditional formal thing downtown with a hotel room rental for the aftermath. Then one of our friends had a two-day slumber party the weekend after the grad party. His parents let him invite about 14 of us to make merry at their summer cabin, under their supervision of course. They were very cool, making us pancakes in the morning and barbecues at night.

Mark Hardcastle, a teen counsellor and foster parent for special needs children, has many wise offerings for students planning the big night. At http://teenadvice.about.com/, you will find lots of answers to questions you may have regarding anything to do with grad, and just things to do with being a teenager.

Some bits of wisdom from him include “Play it straight: Peer pressure and pop culture have many teens believing that prom night and alcohol go hand-in-hand. This is not reality. Most proms are in fact ‘dry’ proms and the best memories are made while sober. After all, who wants to spend prom night hanging over a toilet or sleeping it off in a corner? Want to guarantee the best prom memories possible? Play it smart and stay straight.”

And, “Don’t lose it in the romance. It is very easy for both girls and guys to get caught up in the romantic whirlwind of prom and think that sex would be an amazing addition to the evening. This is just not realistic. The pressure to have sex on prom night is great but nothing will ruin your prom memories faster than a hasty sexual encounter. Prom night romance and sex are not a package deal – prom is more than a three letter word.”

As for your date, many encourage going with a friend as that will always ensure a good time. Ladies, don’t be afraid to do the asking, woman’s lib has earned us that right, plus you will also see that it’s not that easy either, perhaps give a little appreciation for what a guy goes through.

Partying: the first golden rule to have tattooed on your conscience and maybe your forehead is NO DRINKING AND DRIVING, under any circumstances. Call a cab, a friend, a relative, anyone if need be.

Second, ask yourself if you really need to drink. Third, if you decide to go that way, all things in moderation, grasshoppers!

Limo: it’s not the only way to go but it does make a statement and it is enjoyable. There are also town cars and old school cars from the 1930s and 40s that are rockin’ in the statement they make and look very prestigious. Having your mom or dad drive you is way cool too as it shows you appreciate them.

One final thing, remember to take the time to thank your parents, your friends, your relatives or your teachers, whoever helped keep you on track to achieve this feat. It’s not easy and you are deserving of praise, but a student does not walk through the door of knowledge and understanding without first being shown where it is.