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'Project Graduation' offers safe, fun alternative for SEB grads

Bulloch County high school seniors will walk across the stage and receive their diplomas in less than three weeks.
    Southeast Bulloch High School students will attend Project Graduation later that same day, May 26. For more than 20 years, parent volunteers have hosted this event for the Brooklet school’s graduating seniors.
    Project Graduation is a nationwide initiative that provides students with a celebration free of drugs and alcohol on the night of commencement. This year, it will once again be held at The Clubhouse at Hackers, beginning at 11 p.m. May 26.
    “Project Graduation is a wonderful way for graduates and their friends to celebrate this milestone in a safe, drug- and alcohol-free environment. It’s sort of their last big hurrah together,” said Susan Sneathen, this year’s chairman of Project Graduation and the parent of a graduating senior. “SEB is the only area high school to run this event, and it takes a lot of work, but the kids really love it. It’s a memory maker.”
    Law enforcement statistics show that graduation night is one of the single most dangerous nights in a young person’s life. The mission of this annual event is to eliminate those risks and encourage the students to commemorate their big day with fun, games, activities and prizes in a safe environment.
    Students sign a contract saying they will arrive drug- and alcohol-free and remain at the event all night. It officially ends at
6 a.m. The SEB graduates have the opportunity to bowl, play laser tag and arcade games and participate in other activities throughout the night. 
    Sneathen added, “This is the second year in a row we will be at The Clubhouse. Last years’ graduates had a great time in this venue, and we are so grateful that the owners are so willing to work with us and support this wonderful event.”
    All the games will reward students with “Jacket Bucks,” which can be used later that night to bid on items in an auction. Sneathen said the auction items — all donated by local businesses or purchased with raised funds — range from small items up to a microwave or television.
    The Project Graduation team works hard for many months to raise the necessary funds to run the event successfully.
    “It costs about $10,000 to put on this event, and our hope is to have enough prizes so that every graduating senior gets at least one.” Sneathen said. “We are doing well but still have a ways to go in order to have what we really need for this years’ event.”
    During an interview for last years’ Project Graduation, Joyce Stubbs, who is the director of the Bulloch Alcohol and Drug Council, said she felt the annual event is a wonderful activity.
    “The mission of the Alcohol and Drug Council is to sponsor anything that helps our youth grow in a community that supports a drug-free lifestyle,” Stubbs said. “This event definitely makes a difference in these kids’ lives.”
    Spencer Beckum, coordinator for the Drug Free Communities Support Program in Bulloch County, donated $2,500.
    “We hope the event has an influence, and that the information imparted upon these kids carries with them as they enter their adult life,” he said.
    With three weeks remaining before graduation, there are already 50 people signed up to attend and many more still to add their names. Each graduate may bring a guest.
    “We expect at least another 50 to sign up between now and graduation,” Sneathen said. “This really is a community effort, and we are very grateful for the continuing support of so many people and businesses in our community.”
    Donations of items for auction as well as monetary contributions are still needed. Individuals or businesses interested in making donations (money or auction items) can do so by contacting Katherine Wellman at Southeast Bulloch High School, or Susan Sneathen.

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