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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Grads Party All Night, Greet Dawn as Adults

Times and politics may change, but just as they did on the same day 10, 15 or 20 years ago, more than 50,000 Moscow high school seniors will attend school for the last time in their lives Friday -- for the graduation night. School uniforms are a thing of the past and so are 20-kopek lunches, as well as pioneers and komsomol -- but the graduation night lives on. For students this will mean spending the entire night in their school buildings to meet the traditional "first dawn of their adult lives" on Red Square or Sparrow Hills. According to city education department officials, 50,535 students will graduate this year from the capital's 1,212 high schools. About 90 of them will be awarded gold medals, said Viktor Golovanov, head of the education department's extracurricular bureau. In this year's recommendations sent out to schools the main goal is to make the celebration less formal and official, Golovanov said. Traditionally, the night starts at around 7 P.M. when students are congratulated and receive diplomas. The rest of the night very much depends on the organizers' creativity -- and the amount of alcohol involved. This year, two large entertainment complexes are involved in the celebration, Golovanov said. The Rossiya concert hall and the Central Palace of Youth on Komsomolsky Prospekt will host about 2,000 students each for a night of live music, food and drink. At school No. 1280, the 41 graduates will celebrate at the Mziuri Georgian culture center on the Arbat, said Tatyana Ryzhenko, the school's principal. "But this is only because our building is undergoing major repairs," she added. Ryzhenko could not tell exactly how much this year's party cost, but estimated each parental contribution at between 40, 000 and 50,000 rubles ($20.3 to $25.4). For the 1990 graduation party at school No.1278, parents were asked to throw in 50 rubles each. Vasily Gushchin, a driver, has spent the past five months outfitting his daughter for the party, he said. Recently, he bought her a dress for 230,000 rubles. Under the tighter communist-era rules, girls used to turn out in white or light-colored dresses, while boys wore white shirts and dark suits. "For my graduation party in 1963," said Nadezhda Shnitova of the education department, "I wore a white dress, just like a bride, and walked all the way from Bolshaya Yakimanka to Red Square at sunrise."