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Feature - First among equals

A year of firsts for the Class of 2002 and the Whistler community

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The gym will hold a Velcro obstacle course, a sumo-wrestling ring, complete with costumes, a giant blow-up bouncy room, and other activities.

There will be rooms of food thanks to donations from Nesters, the Grocery Store, and Food Plus. A giant Twister game will also keep kids entertained, as will a Jell-O eating contest.

Music lovers can dance to music by Mat the Alien until 3:30 a.m.

And at around 5 a.m. some lucky student will get to drive away in a car thanks to the donation of a $5,000 white Cutlass Calais by Mountain Motors.

There will be no parents at the event, said organizer McDonnell, community youth outreach worker with Whistler Community Services Society.

But they will be monitored by other youth workers and some Sea to Sky security workers who have volunteered their time.

"It is pretty clear these are awesome kids," said McDonnell.

"This grad class is pretty fantastic. The grad committee has taken a real respectful attitude toward the event. They know that once we get one of these under our belt it will be much easier to do these in future years.

"It has been hard to get one of these off the ground, and I think one of the successes of this one, is that the youth are right behind it and I think that will make it easier for it to happen next year.

"There have been situations where parents have put on a supervised wet event and there hasn’t been any problems with those.

"But what I think the community is trying to say, along with the Parent Advisory Council and the Drug and Alcohol Committee, is that there is a better way around it and that is by doing one of these dry grads."

McDonnell, who spent considerable time with many of the grads during a portion of their outdoor education class, is impressed.

"I see a group of excellent young people and I am really optimistic about them going on in the future," he said.

"They just seem to be a whole lot of bright young stars."

For some, the only explanation for the secret of the grad’s success is "the water."

How do you explain such a great class? A class which has produced a member of the national snowboard team, three students who have achieved such high marks their university tuition has been waived, as well as many other success stories.

"It’s a bit of a mystery," said teacher Gail Rybar, whose daughter Kath graduates this year.