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!


10 thoughts on “Project Graduation

  1. How funny…my cousin just chaired Project graduation in her community. For years of kids she managed to get by doing food for events but never shouldering the whole responsibility but this was her year to get roped in…despite a lot of angst along the way it sounded just like you described it- safe profitable fun that was enjoyed by all. This was my cousins last graduation so she was very glad to share the experience with her daughter.

    • If Cole’s school holds a Project Graduation, I’d highly recommend you get involved. It’s very rewarding! Mark even won some cool cash, which he promptly pocketed for use in college (ever the business major, ha!)

    • Oh, yeah, even when all his friends told him how cool the game was and how easy it was to win prizes — no way was he coming over unless I took a l-o-n-g break! I’m looking forward to when I become “cool” again, like when he was a little kid.

  2. Sounds like a great idea in your community – very special. I do know what it’s like when teenage sons avoid their moms, but isn’t it wonderful to know that they grow out of that?
    Sunshine xx

  3. What a brilliant idea and what a generous community effort,Debbie. “It takes a village…” You’d lose sleep anyway if he was out all night partying. I love your comment about him avoiding your gaming table~ so typical. Anyone with teenagers can relate to that 🙂 And I can sense relief on the part of the parents -just knowing where their kids were and No alcohol or drugs-Yes!!

    • Yes, Kathy, I Googled it and found lots of other communities holding similar past-graduation events for their seniors. While they’re not legal to drink, we parents know that some already are. It’s great being able to protect your kids (for that one “tempting” night, at least!) and know where they are, who they’re with, and what they’re doing. It’s also rewarding to realize their youth doesn’t make them immune to tiredness when staying awake all night!!

  4. Our high school grads have the same opportunity. I don’t think there is a prize as grand as a brand new car (or cash equivalent) but each grad gets a huge goody bag full of gifts and they spend their night being entertained in a similar fashion as you’ve described. Both of my boys have experienced the all-night party in years past, so I know a favorite event to which my daughter can look forward is a hypnotist show.

    I love that our kids are sent off into their futures with such a great celebration.

    • I so agree, and thanks for visiting! A Project Graduation-type event gives everybody a chance to celebrate, rather than the exclusivity of individual at-home parties. Some families do have individual parties, but they reserve that time for family gatherings and out-of-town guests, while the Project Graduation event is for the grads and their parents only.

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