Citing contractor staff shortages and lack of ticket sales, the William S. Hart Union High School District informed parents Friday that the annual senior Grad Night event had been canceled for this year.
In a letter distributed to parents heading into the weekend, Hart district Superintendent Mike Kuhlman said administrators had arrived at the difficult decision to cancel the May 27 event at Saugus Speedway due to the fact that “less than 500 students would be participating in an event that would cost the schools $195,000.”
“Unfortunately, student interest in a grad night activity being hosted here in the valley appears to be a sticking point for students,” said Kuhlman. “Ticket sales have not been successful, with most sites selling only a handful of tickets.”
The decision to host an event at Saugus Speedway came only after district staff had originally planned to go to Universal Studios. Unfortunately, Kuhlman said, due to staffing shortages being felt in the transportation industry, the district could not secure charter buses.
The district, seeking alternatives that would be closer to the Santa Clarita Valley, then turned to Six Flags Magic Mountain as a possible site for the event, but that was shot down by ASB students at the local school sites.
“This option was not considered attractive as it was not special, as students have access to this local venue year-round,” said Kuhlman. “This did not deter the team from continuing to seek a unique opportunity that would not require transportation.”
A Grad Night Carnival at Saugus Speedway was then conceived by one of the high schools and the concept was accepted by all the high schools. The event, Kuhlman said, was planned in conjunction with event planners, and the owners of Saugus Speedway agreed to waive the rental fees for use of the facility.
However, the low interest and ticket sales ultimately forced the district’s hand, Kuhlman said, and the entire event was called off.
“These reasons led us to the decision to cancel this event,” Kuhlman said. “ASB teams at the school sites will immediately begin the process of refunding prepayments for this activity to students and families.”
Kuhlman acknowledged that there have been two years of disappointments for Hart district graduates, and this latest event cancellation for an annual event exclusive to local graduating seniors showed the community is still feeling the impacts of COVID-19.
“It does not change the impact this situation will have on your students and for that, we are truly sorry,” said Kuhlman. “We are also hopeful that by planning today for next May, the Class of 2023 will not be impacted in the same manner.”