For at least the last 10 years, Linganore High School seniors, like many FCPS seniors, have spent the night of their graduation day locked-in with their fellow classmates at the Mount St. Mary’s PNC Sports Complex.
The tradition has been a part of Safe and Sane, a program organized by parents, that is meant to provide seniors with an alcohol and drug-free event after officially turning their tassels and becoming adults.
“It’s the one night of the year where everybody is the same,” Chris Safsten said.
Safsten and his wife have been the head organizers of the Linganore High’s Safe and Sane event for the last three years, but this year they had to be creative and come up with something a little different due to the COVID19 pandemic.
They decided to hold the program, in a much shortened form, virtually over Facebook live stream the same day as the high school’s virtual graduation ceremony and raffle off prizes as is customary to the event.
Prizes included an Amazon Echo Dot, a 32-inch Toshiba Smart TV, and gift cards to various restaurants and stores.
The big prize, however, announced at the beginning of the event which was being live-streamed from the Century Ford showroom in Mount Airy, was five $1,000 scholarships, donated by the car dealership.
Names were drawn by Century Ford’s managing partner, Joe DeGiorgi, and all seniors of the Linganore High class of 2020 were entered to win.
Madelyn Spisso was one of the winners. She hadn’t been able to watch the live stream and didn’t know she had won until a friend texted her.
“I was honestly so surprised, I didn’t expect it at all... I didn’t even know they were giving them away,” she said.
Spisso is planning to attend Clemson University in the fall and major in psychology.
Many high schools around the county hold their own Safe and Sane events each year.
Throughout the night students can play games and participate in different fun activities. Prizes are given away throughout the night, the most prestigious of which is usually a car.
Century Ford has been involved with the Linganore event for 23 years and normally donates a used car to be raffled DeGiorgi said.
This year, because of the pandemic, DeGiorgi said he hadn’t secured a car thinking the event would be flat-out canceled. When Safsten called him with the idea to hold the event virtually DeGiorgi knew he didn’t have a car to give away but felt he needed to contribute in some way.
“I hung up and I thought about it for a few minutes...I called him back and I said how about we do...five $1,000 scholarships,” DeGiorgi said.
Safsten said receiving that call back from DeGiorgi was amazing.
“I was like our prayers have been answered on this one. I was so elated because it was so unexpected. It made our entire day,” Safsten said.
DeGiorgi said he felt bad for all the seniors who lost out on so many memories.
“I just wanted to do something to hopefully put a smile on a few kids’ faces,” he said.
Now that the winners have been announced DeGiorgi said he will work on getting the checks out to the kids. He hopes he can get each one of them into the showroom for a picture and to present them with the scholarship.
He also said he will be making the checks out to not only the student but their future school as well.
“I want it to go towards their education I don’t want it to towards their beach week,” DeGiorgi said with a laugh.
And he will be able to count on that from at least one of the winners.
“With college being so expensive I’m definitely going to put it towards my education,” Spisso said.