2018-11-02 / Front Page

Project Grad is on the ropes

By Abigail Worthing Staff Writer

SCARBOROUGH – Calling all parents of Scarborough High School students: Project Graduation needs you to help preserve the annual event.

“Project Graduation is the last night that the students are together as a class, and they deserve to have it be a fun, safe night,” said Stacey Kelley, parent to senior twins Morgan and Mia Kelley and a member of the Project Graduation board. “We want them to be able to have the best night possible, and right now, we’re way behind on making that happen.”

Project Graduation is hosted by parents and volunteers after the graduation ceremonies in an effort to keep the students out of parties and off the road for the evening.

After graduation, usually held at the Cross Insurance Arena, a bus picks up all the graduating seniors and whisks them away to a chemical-free party and a separate location that lasts until 5 o’clock in the morning.

The Project Graduation initiative began in Maine in 1980 to give students an adult-supervised, alcohol free night of fun and keep them out or harm’s way.

The event is now nationwide, and serves as a parent-driven effort to stymie the fatalities in teen alcohol-related automobile accidents on graduation night.

A few weeks ago parents organizing Project Graduation 2019 were met with a dire reality: There are currently not enough funds to host the event this year and furthermore, not enough parent volunteers to help remedy the problem.

The board sent out a plea to all parents of Scarborough High School students, inviting them to a meeting to find a plan to save the event.

Jennifer Sullivan, mother to senior, Emily, and freshman, Cade, became involved with the event last year as a chaperone, and came back this year to help plan and facilitate the event for her own daughter’s class.

“I was shocked that there have been so few parents doing so much work,” Sullivan said. “We had a great turnout at the meeting and I’m hoping even more will come to the next one (Monday, Nov. 5). We’re not in a great position right now, but I think we can definitely turn it around.”

Usually, the funding for the event gets a head start with a rollover from the previous year. While there was a bit of a balance remaining after last year’s event, it is much less than previous years, and put the volunteers on a crunch to raise as much money as possible in a short amount of time.

“We’re at a point where we need to start putting deposits down and we just don’t have the funds right now to do it,” Kelley said. “We need to hurry, because other high schools are already putting down their deposits and we don’t want the kids to miss out.”

At the next parent meeting on Nov. 5, volunteers will be discussing the next steps to fundraise the event dear to the community in Scarborough.

The board will continue its tradition of a letter writing campaign to local businesses, but, according to Kelley, will expand to even more locations this year.

The group also hopes to bring back a fundraiser of the past, the silent auction, which was once the star fundraiser for the event, but fell defunct after a significant dip in parent involvement.

The board is hoping to see a big turnout for its meeting, and is encouraging all parents to join them in planning and fundraising, not just the parents of those with children in the senior class.

“For the meeting on Monday, we’re hoping that parents of all students show up, from eighth grade up, because this is a yearly event. We tend to only think about it when it pertains to our kids, but this is an event held annually to keep the kids of our community safe. I’m guilty of it, too,” said Sullivan, whose first experience with Project Graduation was chaperoning the 2018 event. “I waited to get involved and now I see I should have been more active, too.”

For those who would like to get involved with planning the event, there is an informational meeting 6:30 p.m. Monday, Nov. 5 in the Scarborough High School study center.

“There has been such a dip in volunteerism with parents, and we need help, with planning, chaperoning,” Kelley said. “ I just want my kids to have the same experience that I had when I graduated from Portland High School in 1989. The kids deserve a great night.”

For those who would like to donate to Project Graduation, checks can be made payable to Scarborough Project Graduation, and can be sent to PO Box 7117, Scarborough, Maine 04070-7117.

Contact Staff Writer Abigail Worthing at news@scarboroughleader.com.

Return to top