Project Graduation

My neighbor’s daughter graduated from high school last night, and that took me back two years to when My Favorite Domer did the same thing.

Grads in our town are lucky — they have what’s fondly called “Project Graduation” to ease them through the transition from high school to the real world.

Project Graduation is an all-night, chemical-free party put on for the grads by their parents. And before you yawn or start dissing the idea, you’ve got to know it’s a blast!

Following the tradition of many years past, senior parents work to secure donations from businesses throughout the community. The donations are used to shower the grads with goodies before they embark on life, whether they’re continuing their education, going into the military, or beginning work.

Some of the gifts in the past have included spa baskets, cash, tickets to events, gift cards, outdoor grills, makeovers, computers, and other prizes. The big prize, of course, is a drawing for a new car (or cash equivalent), sponsored by one of our auto dealers and open to the entire community.

Graduating seniors sign up to attend the event, promising to adhere to the rules — no drugs or alcohol, no tag-along friends who aren’t part of the senior class, no leaving once they’re inside the venue. Into the wee hours of the morning, they play a variety of games, including beanbag toss, balloon pop, blackjack, etc. and receive tickets for their win; these they drop into a hat and wait, hoping their name is called for a prize.

Free food and sodas, entertainment, and music are also part of the event, which is chaperoned by senior parents (who run the games). Teachers usually don’t show up, nor do administrators. This is for the kids and their parents.

Some of My Favorite Domer’s classmates were going into the military; some had just received new tattoos; some were looking forward to being on their own at college. They snapped lots of pictures of each other, shared memories of their school years, and behaved themselves respectfully to us parents.

I couldn’t help but be impressed at their new-found maturity.

Or amazed that so many of them tired before us parents!

My Favorite Domer did his level best to avoid my gaming table that night. Who wants to cling to Mom when your friends are around?

Yet, it was reassuring to know where he was, what he was doing, and that he was safe.

And it made for an incredible bonding experience, realizing that we’d endured no sleep for an entire night. But, oh, how good that bed felt after I got back home, and how grand it was sleeping until noon!