Donations still needed for grad party

Published 9:55 am Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A group of 26 community members is planning a post-party for what will be some students’ biggest event of their lives — graduation.

Austin High School has organized a Project Graduation committee for about two decades. The group fundraises, promotes and plans the annual graduation party at AHS. More than 50 volunteers help at the event, notably alumnus Brian Hill, who helps coordinate activities.

To donate money or gifts, call Cindy Hernandez at 434-2363.

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Pacelli High School and home-schooled graduates are also welcome to the party.

“It’s an all-night, lock-in event sponsored by the community,” said Cindy Hernandez, who co-chairs the committee with Agnes Wahlert.

The theme this year is “Packer Pride, Shine in ‘09: New World, New Adventures.” Early registration ($40) started in early April; currently, registration is $50. If students wait until after June 4, which is discouraged, the fee is $60. Those who pre-register receive a gift basket with surprise items that can be used after high school, particularly in college.

Hernandez said about 200 students attend the event. The purpose of the party is to not only give students a drug-free, alcohol-free alternative, but to give one last hurrah before the grads part ways.

“It brings a lot of kids together,” Hernandez said.

Held on the first floor of AHS — the classrooms, both gyms and Knowlton Auditorium — the post-graduation party will include food, a photographer, mechanical bull, Extreme Bungee Challenge, raffles, bingo, karaoke, caricatures, massages and the grand finale, a hypnotist.

“We try not to let the kids know too much about what’s going on,” Hernandez said. “Everybody says they had a good time.”

The doors open after the graduation ceremony, at about 9:30 p.m.

Students will be admitted until 10:30 p.m. and cannot leave until 4 a.m. without parents picking them up.

Hernandez said donations — which totaled nearly $10,000 in monetary contributions in addition to gifts last year — is down for 2009.

To donate money or gifts to Project Graduation, contact Hernandez at 434-2363.