Donations help Project Graduation

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 22, 2002

Graduation from high school is an important event in anyone's life, an event that marks the end of one stage of life and the beginning of another.

It's an event that should be memorable and to make sure the memories are fond ones, members of the community have organized "Project Graduation" for the graduating seniors of Austin High School, Pacelli High School and graduating home school students.

Jean Bird, a committee chair, explains "Project Graduation is a party that provides drug-free and alcohol-free entertainment for the graduates after graduation (on June 7)."

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"It's a lock-in at Austin High School that happens right after graduation, and goes from 9:30 p.m. to 5 a.m.," committee chair Kay Middlebrook adds.

Middlebrook says the this year's event has a cruise theme "so the rooms in the high school will be decorated as different ports of call and each will have different activities. We try not to let the kids know what those are so there are some surprises, but there will be a lot of food, music and games."

Each student also will receive a T-shirt and gifts and will have the opportunity to win raffle prizes, which are donated by local businesses. "They donate cash, prizes, coupons, gift certificates, all kinds of things. Last year, we raffled off a computer," Middlebrook says.

Without the donations, Middlebrook adds, Project Graduation wouldn't be possible.

The project is in its eighth year and Bird says it's something the students look forward to with anticipation. "It usually involves a good majority of the graduating students. Not all will come, but as long as we've been doing it, a good percentage will come," she says. "It's a neat way for the kids to get together one last time. It's a good end to their school career before they go off to college or start their careers. It's kind of a class reunion before they've really left school."

"That night, everyone wants to celebrate. It's the last time they'll all be together and they should enjoy it. It's a warm, safe environment and they don't have to do any of the planning," Middlebrook says. "And once they're in, they're in. People can't come and go as they please."

Tickets are on sale at the AHS cashier's office. Until May 17, tickets cost $35 and after May 17, they will be available for $45.

Donations are still being accepted, as are volunteers to staff the ports of call. For more information, contact Kay Middlebrook at 433-2257, Jean Bird at 434-0528 or Kay Middlebrook at 433-7657.

Amanda L. Rohde can be reached at 434-2214 or by e-mail at