SOURCE: NextStudent

June 08, 2007 11:55 ET

Matthew Pierre, a High School Junior, Takes Home NextStudent's 'Rock My Grad Party' Top Prize

PHOENIX, AZ--(Marketwire - June 8, 2007) - NextStudent, a leading Phoenix-based education funding company, announces Matthew Pierre, a junior at Marcos de Niza High School in Tempe, AZ, as the winner of the "Rock My Grad Party" Contest.

Pierre won a new laptop computer for himself and $5,000 for his school's Grad Night Party. Of the high schools and students that participated, Pierre totaled 2,551,580 hits on the "Rock My Grad Party" landing page, more than double that of any other participant. The contest, sponsored by NextStudent throughout the months of April and May, promoted higher education and NextStudent's Scholarship Search Engine to high schools throughout the Phoenix area.

NextStudent supports the ethical values and healthy living that is at the core of the Grad Night tradition and wishes all students and high schools a healthy, happy and safe graduation night celebration. Many schools around the country and throughout Phoenix have held graduation night parties for seniors since the mid-80s. The purpose of these parties is to create a fun, safe, alcohol-free environment for students to celebrate their high school graduation.

The origin of the grad night party can be traced back to California, where, according to, "Over thirty years ago, a graduating senior from Valencia High School died in a drinking and driving related accident. Unfortunately, it's not a unique story. Drinking and driving related traffic deaths are the number one cause of death amongst teenagers. As a result of this tragedy, Valencia adopted stricter drinking/drug free codes and began seeking safer ways for seniors to celebrate their high school graduation. The answer, of course, was Sober Grad Night. Currently, in California alone, hundreds of high schools celebrate graduation with this life-saving program."

Although he only is a junior and will not graduate until 2008, Pierre said that he was inspired to participate in the contest by his love for his high school. He said, "Marcos is an awesome school." Pierre, who is an avid technophile, first learned about the contest through a topic posted on his school's MySpace profile and decided that it would be a great way to honor his senior friends. In true high school spirit, the co-chairs of Marcos' 2007 Grad Night Party, Gilbert and Linda Rodriguez, announced that the committee decided to split the $5,000 prize between this year's grad night party and next year's party when Pierre will be a senior. After graduating from high school Pierre plans on studying cyber security at college.

The parents of graduating seniors at Marcos de Niza High School have sponsored a grad night party at Arizona State University's Memorial Union since 1991. This year's party started at 11 p.m. soon after the actual May 24, 2007 graduation ceremony concluded; students were released at 5 a.m. after all the fun.

For a small entrance fee, students were treated to food, nonalcoholic drinks, snacks, entertainment acts, activities and door prizes for each and every attendee. Because the entrance fee did not cover all grad party expenses, throughout the past year parents raised funds to cover the costs of the party, and the nominal entrance fee helped to slightly offset the door prize costs. Parents raised money for the party by volunteering at concessions, working the Tempe Arts Festival and sponsoring the annual poinsettia sale.

Staying true to the tradition of grad night parties throughout the country, Marcos de Niza's party promised to provide a fun-filled alcohol/drug free environment for seniors to celebrate their graduation. According to Mr. and Mrs. Rodriguez, activities included casino games where fake money was redeemed for door-prize chances that included everything from coupons for free Frostys to iPods and PSPs to free dental work. Students also were able to participate in karaoke, video games and bowling at ASU's Memorial Union. Attendance was slightly more than 50 percent of the graduating class, and every student who attended received a free Target gift card.

About NextStudent

NextStudent, federal lender code 834051, is dedicated to helping students and their families find affordable ways to pay for college. NextStudent offers one-on-one education finance counseling and has a portfolio of highly competitive education finance products and services including a free online scholarship search engine, federally guaranteed parent and student loans, private student loans, both federal and private student loan consolidation programs, and college savings plans.

The NextStudent Scholarship Search Engine, one of the nation's oldest and largest online scholarship search engines, is updated daily, available free of charge, completely private -- and represents 2.4 million scholarships worth $3.4 billion.

For more information about NextStudent and its student loan programs, please visit the company's Web site at

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