TUCSON – Graduation is an exciting time for local high school students, but it can be dangerous with parties and underage drinking.
It is why there is Project Graduation, a safe, all-night grad party, hosted by the school and parents.
The event started as an alternative to student-run events involving drugs and alcohol. It starts right after graduation ends and goes until 5:30 a.m.
Amphitheater School District high schools had their Project Graduations Tuesday night.
“The National Highway Safety Institute statistics show that every year about 14 hundred kids die in the season between prom and graduation, which is just horrific obviously,” said Susan Leader, Project Graduation Organizer. “So our goal is to give kids a place and a really fun and memorable place to be on potentially one of the most dangerous nights of the year.”
Leader has been prepping for Canyon Del Oro’s (CDO) Project Graduation for about a year with hundreds of volunteers and she says the graduating seniors love it.
“Our goal is to make this the most attractive option out there so they want to be here instead of out partying and possibly having a dangerous night and so we give them so many activities, so much to do, and they have so much fun,” said Leader.
There is everything from slot machines to a live hypnotist, dancing and prizes.
“I’ve known about it since I was a freshman,” said Rebecca Shanks, graduating senior. “It’s something that every class gets excited to do, but it’s still also kind of secretive and not everyone knows exactly what’s going to happen, so there’s a lot of surprise and anticipation for it too.”
Shanks graduated from CDO Tuesday night. She is one of close to 300 CDO seniors who enjoyed Project Graduation.
She says it really does cut back on drinking and partying.
“I mean I think it does happen definitely, but I think that events like this make everyone excited to kind of come together and celebrate how fun it is just to be together and celebrate as a class,” said Shanks.
Other schools in other districts will be hosting Project Graduation this week.
Project Graduation organizers urge other parents to get involved. They are looking for parents of kids going into high school to start helping out because it is all volunteer based.